The counter-hegemonic role of civil society: Palestinian-Arab NGOs in Israel

Amal Jamal*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


This paper deals with the causes and impact of the rise in the number of Palestinian-Arab Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in Israel in the last two decades. It provides a multi-level model that combines economic, political and cultural factors to explain the shifts in Palestinian-Arab political mobilization in Israel and as a result to the rise of a complex network of Arab NGOs. The paper demonstrates the way in which the civil institutions and their intensive involvement in public social affairs generate social capital that has internal as well as external political impact. Arab civil society institutions, which operate mainly separately from civil institutions of the Jewish majority, assist in the empowerment and the development of Arab society. They provide services in different fields, such as education, health, and planning. They also advocate and lobby for the rights of the Arab citizens inside Israel and internationally. Arab civil society institutions also provide information necessary for political mobilization, identity formation, and cultural preservation. In this framework the paper claims that they play a counter-hegemonic role vis-à-vis the Israeli state. However, the paper also claims that the broad advocacy and lobbying activity of Arab civil institutions did not manage to fully democratize Israeli policies towards Arab society, demonstrating the centrality of state identity and power structure when it comes to democratization processes. On a different level, the paper reveals that, although the Palestinian - Arab NGOs network has managed to lead to a liberalization process within Arab society, this process is partial and selective.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)283-306
Number of pages24
JournalCitizenship Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2008


FundersFunder number
American foundations


    • Civil society
    • Counter-hegemonic struggle
    • Future vision documents
    • NGOs
    • National minorities
    • Nationalizing states


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