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Coffins on Our Shoulders

Coffins on Our Shoulders: The Experience of the Palestinian Citizens of Israel

Dan Rabinowitz
Khawla Abu-Baker
Copyright Date: 2005
Edition: 1
Pages: 232
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  • Book Info
    Coffins on Our Shoulders
    Book Description:

    This highly original historical and political analysis of the Arab-Israeli conflict combines the unique perspectives of two prominent segments of the Middle Eastern puzzle: Israeli Jews and the Palestinian citizens of Israel. Written jointly by an Israeli anthropologist and a Palestinian family therapist born weeks apart to two families from Haifa,Coffins on Our Shouldersmerges the personal and the political as it explores the various stages of the conflict, from the 1920s to the present. The authors weave vivid accounts and vignettes of family history into a sophisticated multidisciplinary analysis of the political drama that continues to unfold in the Middle East. Offering an authoritative inquiry into the traumatic events of October 2000, when thirteen Palestinian citizens of Israel were killed by Israeli police during political demonstrations, the book culminates in a radical and thought-provoking blueprint for reform that few in Israel, in the Arab world, and in the West can afford to ignore.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-93896-0
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Dan Rabinowitz and Khawla Abu-Baker
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-18)

    Mar Elias College in the village of ʿIblin is a church-run high school serving Palestinians—Muslims, Christian, and Druze—from western Galilee and beyond.¹ In late June 2000 some fourteen hundred youths, teachers, clerics, proud parents, and other family relations packed the main auditorium for the annual graduation ceremony. As they took their seats, the school choir formed on stage and started singing. The first song was “Mawtini” (My homeland). Written in the 1930s by Ibrahim Tukan, “Mawtini” has major emotional significance for every Palestinian and is second only to “Biladi Biladi” (My country, my country), the semiofficial Palestinian national...

  5. Chapter One
    (pp. 19-40)

    ʿAarif Abu-Shamla was born in 1903 to a well-to-do rural family in Yaʿabad, a village near Jenin in the West Bank.¹ An only son to his parents, he nevertheless left home at the age of eighteen and headed for the rapidly developing coastal town of Haifa.² He was not alone there. Other members of his extended family from Yaʿabad and other villages in the northern part of the West Bank had settled in Haifa before. His aunt, who had married a man from the neighboring village of Keri, offered him a room in her apartment on Stanton Street in downtown...

  6. Chapter Two
    (pp. 41-62)

    The Abu-Shamlas reached Acre as part of a continuous stream of displaced Palestinians the day it was captured by the Israeli forces. The men were rounded up and arrested. ʿAarif and his son Mohammad, who at thirteen looked older than his age, were no exception. For three long months Maryam turned up every morning at the police headquarters to plead for her son until she finally convinced the officers in charge to let him go. Most men, including ʿAarif, were detained for more than eighteen months. No indictments or legal proceedings of any kind were ever filed.

    Nada, twelve at...

  7. Chapter Three
    (pp. 63-98)

    The neighborhood children whom Muhammad Ali Taha addresses in this verse are Palestinians born after al-Nakbah (the catastrophe) of 1948. The painful poem is a reminder of the dreadful reality that befell their nation following that war. Having lost control of their territorial assets and livelihoods, the Palestinians were now in danger of having their heritage and sense of identity eroded too.

    The neighborhood kids represent, metonymically, a generation of Palestinians who were born as citizens of Israel in the 1950s. These children matured in the shadow of the wars of 1967 and 1973 and came of political age with...

  8. Chapter Four
    (pp. 99-139)

    The eruption in late September 2000 of Intifadat al-Aqsa was an event of historic proportion. Unlike the outbreak of the first intifada in December 1987, which came on the backdrop of a prolonged stalemate, Intifadat al-Aqsa was a reaction to concrete initiatives and processes. Essentially, it was the Palestinian response to the fundamental flaws of the political developments known as the Oslo process that had shaped their lives since the beginning of the 1990s.

    Conventional wisdom in Israel and the United States suggests that the Oslo process, complete with the phased withdrawals of Israel from parts of the territories, was...

  9. Chapter Five
    (pp. 140-166)

    In March 2000 a panel of Supreme Court judges headed by Chief Justice Aharon Barak delivered a precedent-setting ruling. The case in point involved a young Palestinian family named Qaʿdan. The family, a couple and their three young children, applied in 1995 to buy a plot of land and build their home in Katzir, a suburban settlement established by the Jewish Agency a few years earlier in Wadi Aʿara, near Um al-Fahim.

    The Qaʿdans were not the first Palestinian family to seek residence in Katzir. A dozen or so Palestinian families already lived there as tenants or homeowners. The Qaʿdans...

  10. Chapter Six
    (pp. 167-184)

    The debate regarding Palestinian citizens no longer involves political extremes. It takes place in the mainstream, invoking concepts and configurations that often confuse and conflate the Zionist “left” and “right.” Moderate right-wingers in Israel are sometimes more committed to liberal policies than are the Zionist left, the latter’s image as the voice of reason and enlightenment notwithstanding. During his first months in office as prime minister, the Likud leader Ariel Sharon, born and raised in a moshav associated with the right flank of the Labor movement, met with Palestinian leaders more frequently and more attentively than did Ehud Barak—who...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 185-200)
  12. References
    (pp. 201-212)
  13. About the Authors
    (pp. 213-214)
  14. Index
    (pp. 215-221)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 222-222)