Procedural Liberalism in the Service of Ethnocracy and as a Space for Resistance: The Case of Dahmash

  • Yael Arbell The University of Leeds
Keywords: Informality, Israel-Palestine, ethnocracy, recognition, legal geography


Dahmash is an informal village of Israeli Arabs in the heart of Israel. Based on discourse analysis of legal sources, this paper argues that the state’s democratic procedural discourse is used in court to deny and cover over an ethnocratic discriminatory reality. In this setting, the Israeli court can hardly be a helpful space of contestation, but at the same time the very pretence for impartiality provides a ‘crack’ through which the residents continue their resistance. In contrast to the Liberal impartial approach (or pretence) which is implied in the state’s legal texts, this paper employs Nancy Fraser’s theory of justice to explore three aspects of injustice in the case of Dahmash: distribution, recognition and representation, demonstrating how ethnocracy and capitalism work together in a process of dispossession.


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