“Inside outsiders:” comparing state policies towards citizens of Palestinian and Kurdish descent in Israel and Turkey

Date
2021-10
Advisor
Grigoriadis, Ioannis N.
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Bilkent University
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English
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Abstract

Israel and Turkey have been regarded as ethnically divided societies where ethnicity represented a fundamental political cleavage between a national majority and ethnic minority. The formation of Israeli and Turkish nation-states simultaneously led to the “minoritization” of those Palestinians and Kurds who constituted the biggest ethnic and linguistic minority by a wide margin in their respective countries. While Israel never considered assimilating its Palestinian citizens into mainstream Israeli national identity, considering Jewishness as its essential and indispensable element, Turkey engaged in assimilation policies visà- vis its Kurdish citizens, which met with limited success. Although the two countries applied different methods of ethnic diversity management, they have converged in maintaining exclusive state identities, Jewish and Turkish, and excluded their Palestinian and Kurdish minorities from political and economic power. Especially in recent decades, both states have been challenged by their Palestinian and Kurdish minorities seeking equal treatment with the Jewish and Turkish majority. Minority demands share common elements: the recognition of their status as a national minority entitled to collective rights and effective inclusion into the political system. However, awarding full citizenship rights has been questioned on accounts of Jewish sovereignty dilution fears in Israel and Kurdish self-determination and partition in Turkey. Failing to distinguish their citizens from their trans-border ethnic kin groups and viewing them as part of trans-national community threatening Israeli and Turkish sovereignty, Israel’s citizens of Palestinian descent and Turkey’s citizens of Kurdish descent have been turned into “inside outsiders.”

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Ethnicity, Israel, Kurds, Palestinians, Turkey
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Published Version (Please cite this version)