Reflections on October 2000: A Landmark in Jewish-Arab Relations in Israel


This article was written in response to the violence that took place in Israel during the first two weeks of October 2000. The first phase of these events, from 1 to 6 October, was marked by massive demonstrations in Arab localities throughout Israel in sympathy with the second intifada; in the course of these demonstrations, thirteen unarmed Arab citizens were shot dead by Israeli security forces, a thousand were wounded; and hundreds were arrested. The second phase, from 7 to 15 October, involved vigilante actions by Jewish citizens against Arab citizens, including attacks on mosques, clinics, stores, and homes (see Docs. A5, Cl, and D2 in JPS 118, and Docs. C4 and C5 in this issue). In diagnostic rather than narrative mode, the piece analyzes Israel's conduct during the events and their repercussions. Its thrust is that Israel's measures reveal the hollowness of its democracy as far as its Arab citizens are concerned. It equally condemns the Israeli establishment (military and civilian), the Israeli Left, and the "Israelized Arabs" preoccupied with winning the approval of the Jewish majority. Among the main results of the October events, in the author's view, are the reversal of the trend toward "integration" and the confirmation of the Arab national identity of Israel's Arab citizens, an identity that is bound to be consolidated as Israel pursues its policies of separation in the occupied territories.


Azmi Bishara, a former professor of philosophy at Birzeit University, is one of thirteen Arab members of the Knesset and the head of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). A longer and earlier version of this article appeared in the winter 2001 issue of our sister publication, Majallat al-Dirasat al-Filastiniyya.

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