As I stated in my title I think this book is a great place to start for anyone looking to learn more about the evolution of Palestinian politics within Israel. This is a very focused study of the beginnings of the politicalization of what was left of the Palestinians within the Green Zone after the war of 48 all the way up until year 2000. While the fact that the book only goes up until 2000 is a problem since this leaves out some dramatic happenings that have changed the situation drastically, this book is still a great historical account of the political lives of the Palestinians up to that point. Good books that focus exclusively on the Palestinians that are also unbiased are hard to find which makes this work all the more valuable.
What I found most interesting was just how disruptive the war in 48 was for the Palestinians. Of course I understood this was a defining moment, but one aspect this book does a good job detailing is how much the expulsions and the exodus eroded the natural order of the Palestinians lives. In many areas traditional leadership was either decimated or had completely been removed. Not only that but groups of people had been displaced and moved into areas and villages that were alien to them. Add this fact to the imposition of military rule that was designed to disenfranchise and to keep the Palestinians pacified and disorganized, and one sees why it took decades for any real leadership to emerge from the ashes of this war.
The other area of great importance is the difficulties inherent in being a minority in a state that is based on ethnicity. The fact that the state of Israel is officially a state for the Jewish people makes any kind of equality for the Palestinians almost an impossibility. I think whether or not a state that bases is itself on ethnicity can truly be a democratic state or not is a debate worth having. While this was outside this studies purview, the author does a great job discussing the day to day problems for the Palestinian minority trying to work inside a political system that is purposefully stacked against their interests.
The author speaks at length about the differing streams of political thought that exists within the Palestinian minority inside Israel. He goes through and details each political stream by who they are, their political philosophy and how they have chosen to go about implementing those philosophies. Each stream of thought has differing ideas of how best to deal with state, and each stream chooses differing levels of cooperation with the Jewish state. Some groups like the Israeli-Arab stream believe in full cooperation with the Zionist state and its political parties whereas other streams like the Islamists believe only in supporting local government institutions while excluding national participation. The author thoroughly explains each group's motivation for pursuing their own goals and strategies for attaining those goals.
My main criticism is that the author thoroughly explains the problems within the Palestinian leadership, but then in his conclusion he suggests the solution lies in a binational state for territory encompassing the Palestinian Mandate. My problem is that all of the author's previous chapters outline how the Palestinians have no leadership that would be able compete with the Israeli side which is very politically mature and adept. It seems to me this would have been a recipe for some type of disaster. Of course subsequent events have, in my opinion made this issue moot.
In the end this is an important book that will add perspective and insight into the Israeli state and its interactions with its Arab minorities. Any student or casual observer of this issue will find merit in this work no matter what their political affiliation. This is an unbiased accounting of an important issue. I recommend this book.