Jewish/Palestinian Self-Determination and Citizenship in Israel/Palestine

15 Pages Posted: 9 May 2014

See all articles by Chaim Gans

Chaim Gans

Tel Aviv University - Buchmann Faculty of Law

Date Written: April 2014


The paper presents a distinction I worked out in great detail in my book A Political Theory for the Jewish People: Three Zionist Narratives (Hebrew, 2013, submitted for publication in English) among three versions of Zionism. Mainstream Jewish and Israeli politics are based on Zionism under two conceptions of this ideology. The first is proprietary. According to this conception, Zionism initiated the physical repossession of a land and of a political entity which the Jews had owned since antiquity. This ownership has allegedly not lapsed despite the physical separation between the Jews and their land.

The second mainstream conception of Zionism is hierarchical. It is based on a hegemonic interpretation of the universal right that peoples have to self-determination. According to this conception, the right to self-determination is a right to "a state whose institutions and official public culture are linked to a particular national group [and which…] puts those citizens who are not members of the preferred [group…] at a disadvantage." [Ruth Gavison, "the Jews' Right to Statehood: A Defense," Azure 15 (2003), 74-75.]

The paper explains the main arguments which the proponents of these two versions of Zionism invoke in order to support their interpretation of this ideology and explicate their implications regarding citizenship and self-determination in Israel/Palestine. It then proposes a third interpretation of Zionism, an egalitarian one. This version of Zionism, which I argued for in A Just Zionism, falls between the two mainstream conceptions mentioned above, and on the other hand, the post-Zionist critique of the notion of "a Jewish and democratic state".

Keywords: Proprietary; Hierarchical; Egalitarian Zionism; self-determination; citizenship; Palestine; Israel

Suggested Citation

Gans, Chaim, Jewish/Palestinian Self-Determination and Citizenship in Israel/Palestine (April 2014). Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies Research Paper No. RSCAS 2014/35, Available at SSRN: or

Chaim Gans (Contact Author)

Tel Aviv University - Buchmann Faculty of Law ( email )

Ramat Aviv
University Campus, Ramat Aviv
Tel Aviv 69978
972-3-6408164 (Phone)

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