The Arabs in Israel


  • Noam Chomsky





The literature in English on Zionism and Israeli society is extensive, but there are some striking gaps. Within the "green line" (pre-June 1967 borders) one-seventh of the population is Arab. But as the American political scientist Leonard Fein points out, "Unhappily, social scientists have devoted little attention to the Arabs in Israel." This is not to say that American social scientists and other commentators refrain from allusions to the status of the Arab minority. Quite the contrary. One of the great achievements of Zionism is commonly held to be its achievement of the democratic ideal of equality of rights for all citizens. Harvard sociologist Nathan Glazer, a specialist on ethnic minorities with a long-standing interest in Israel and Zionism, writes that "the state created by Zionism is a modern secular state in which civil rights are granted to all people of whatever origin and religion." His colleague, political scientist Michael Walzer, scoffs at Palestinian propaganda in favor of a democratic secular state on the grounds that such a state "already exists in substance" in the former Palestine, namely, the state of Israel. These observations are not untypical of left-liberal commentary on Israel. There is general admiration for Israel's secularism and equitable treatment of the Arab minority. The general acclaim is matched only by the no-less general ignorance of the facts.