Israel’s Security and Its Arab Citizens

In This Review

Israel's Security and Its Arab Citizens
By Professor Hillel Frisch
Cambridge University Press, 2011
228 pp. $90.00
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Frisch usefully brings international relations theory to bear on the question of Israel’s policies toward its Arab citizens. His conclusions are hardly surprising. Israel’s strategic concerns about its Arab neighbors reflect back (negatively) on the minority Arab population within Israel. Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, considered the Israeli Arabs to be a fifth column; Frisch believes that some portion of the community fits that description today, as well. Any meaningful dialogue between Jewish and Arab Israelis is stymied by Jewish insistence on loyalty to the Zionist state and dismissal of the Arab view of Israel’s creation as a nakba (catastrophe) for Arabs and by Arab calls to transform Israel into a binational state. Frisch views the latter as a recipe for failure, citing the precedents of Cyprus and Lebanon. He notes an interesting tension: on the one hand, Israel’s economic liberalization and relatively liberal judiciary allow for some loosening of the screws on Israeli Arabs; on the other, the country’s “deteriorating” geostrategic position leads to their tightening. Frisch concludes that compared with minorities in other ethnonational conflicts, the Israeli Arabs do relatively well. But that will be scant comfort to members of that community.

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