Ethnic identity, grievance and political behavior: being Palestinian in Israel

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2004

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Abstract

This dissertation explores system-challenging political behavior in Israel among the non-Jewish Israeli Palestinian minority. System-challenging behavior (SCB) includes protest action and protest intent, as well as participation in ìnational actionî days that commemorate important events in Palestinian history. Based on the protest literature, one would expect that the greater the grievances, the more system-challenging behavior one would find. However, I find that this grievance ñ SCB is conditioned by the kind of identity held. Using survey data from Israel, my study shows the importance of not only grievance but also identity to participation in SCB such as protest and national action. Individuals with an identity favorable to the state are less likely to engage in SCB even when they have a significant level of grievances. Thus, the effect of grievances is reduced by pro-state identities. For those who hold an anti-establishment identity, however, the impact of grievance is intensified. Thus the state can promote ethnic stability by cultivating identification with it, a difficult task in ethnically-based states such as Israel. The results of this study are relevant to the many multiethnic states in the world seeking to improve ethnic relations.

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