The Palestinians Seen through the Israeli Cultural Paradigm

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VOL. 16


No. 3
P. 68
The Palestinians Seen through the Israeli Cultural Paradigm

In 1974 the American sociologist Seymour Martin Lipset commented on the paucity of research on the Arabs in Israel by saying:

Almost none of the academic research and policy decisions about the problems of education, or social mobility, ever deal with Arab citizens of the country. . . . Articles about the Israeli situation which break down attainment and statuses by ethnic background are generally headed 'The Israeli System,' but have no column for over 400,000 Israeli Arabs who comprise 14 per cent of the population of the state.

Just over a decade later, with the Palestinians in Israel proper numbering more than 600,000 and comprising 16 percent of the total population, the noted American political scientist Karl Deutsch reiterated this charge in his introduction to a volume of essays about Israeli society:

It [the volume] contains not a single chapter by a social scientist of Arab background. Even if all Arabs should refuse any dialogue, their published views should be studied. Among the many references in the volume there is no appreciable number of citations from Arab newspapers, books, or scholarly papers, nor from the speeches and writings of Arab political leaders within Israel and the occupied territories, nor are even many names of such leaders to be found. So far as Israel's Arab citizens or subjects are concerned, Israeli sociological research still is at a stage where it resembles the work of an honest hardworking veterinarian whose patients do not talk.

While both charges have more than a grain of truth, they do not depict the total picture of the status of Israeli research on the Palestinians.

This article is based on a larger forthcoming study by Aziz Haidar, The Palestinians in Israeli Social Science Writings (Near East Cultural and Educational Foundation of Canada and the International Center for Research and Public Policy, Washington, D.C., 1987). Aziz Haidar teaches in the Department of Sociology at Birzeit University on the West Bank and Elia Zureik teaches Sociology at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.