Palestinian Citizens and Religious Nationalism in Israel

August 6, 2021

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In May 2021, the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem was the site of conflict between Israeli police and Palestinian worshippers, who were celebrating the holy month of Ramadan. The violence at Al-Aqsa—in combination with the eviction of Palestinian families from Sheikh Jarrah, a neighborhood in East Jerusalem—sparked street violence in Israel and fighting between Israeli forces and Hamas. A ceasefire was announced in late May, after a considerable death toll in Israel and the Palestinian territories. The latest conflict was marked by widespread protests by Palestinian citizens in Israel, sometimes referred to as Arab Israelis, who make up over 20% of the Israeli population. These recent events highlight broader questions on Palestinian citizens and religious nationalism in Israel.

This week the Berkley Forum asks: How does the history of Palestinians in Israel since 1948 inform the current moment? In what ways does the relationship between religion and nation in Israel interface with the citizenship and day-to-day experiences of Palestinians in Israel, a Muslim-majority population with notable Christian and Druze minorities? What are the historical and contemporary sources of the emerging political consciousness among Palestinian Israelis? What does the “Arab Question” in Israel suggest about the challenges and possibilities of cultural pluralism in Israel? What might widespread protests by Palestinian citizens in Israel suggest about the future of Israeli democracy?

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