Hierarchical Inclusion: The Untold History of Israel's Affirmative Action for Arab Citizens (1948–68)

Law and History Review , Volume 39 , Issue 1 , February 2021 , pp. 29 - 67

39 Pages Posted: 22 Mar 2021 Last revised: 21 Apr 2021

See all articles by Ofra Bloch

Ofra Bloch

Tel Aviv University - Buchmann Faculty of Law

Date Written: March 18, 2021

Abstract

The history of Israel's relationship with its Palestinian-Arab minority during the founding decades, from 1948 to 1968, is often portrayed as a story of formal citizenship that concealed large-scale, state-sanctioned oppression under military rule. This article excavates an untold history of employment affirmative action for Palestinian-Arab citizens of Israel during these two decades which does not fit neatly into this story. Drawing on original archival research, it reveals that, during Israel's founding decades, officials adopted hiring quotas for unskilled Arab workers and for educated Arabs; requirements and incentives for hiring Arabs in government offices, Jewish businesses, and organizations; earmarked jobs and established vocational training courses for the Arab population. It demonstrates that interests in safeguarding Jewish control and economic stability aligned with egalitarian aspirations, and motivated state officials to adopt measures that promoted the inclusion of the Arab population in the workforce, albeit on unequal terms. Furthermore, these measures were part of a transformation of the state's attitude towards Arab citizens, from strict military control to a regime of “hierarchical inclusion” entailing gradual integration into the Israeli economy — mostly though its lower tiers and with a second-class status. Tracing the use of these mechanisms, not then called affirmative action but recognizable as such today, to this period of subjected population management, complicates our understanding of both this chapter in Israel's history and of affirmative action more broadly.

Keywords: Affirmative Action; Inequality; Israel; Administrative Constitutionalism

Suggested Citation

Bloch, Ofra, Hierarchical Inclusion: The Untold History of Israel's Affirmative Action for Arab Citizens (1948–68) (March 18, 2021). Law and History Review , Volume 39 , Issue 1 , February 2021 , pp. 29 - 67, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3807227

Ofra Bloch (Contact Author)

Tel Aviv University - Buchmann Faculty of Law ( email )

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