Allweil, Yael. “Surprising Alliances for Dwelling and Citizenship: Palestinian-Israeli Participation in the Mass Housing Protests of Summer 2011.” In International Journal of Islamic Architecture, Volume 2, Number 1 (pp. 41-75), edited by Mohammad Gharipour, Bristol: Intellect, 2013.
Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel, or Palestinian Israelis, are marginalized in a society based on Jewish nationalism, religion and ethnicity. While Israel witnessed numerous social struggles for equality and inclusion, none attempted to challenge Jewish nationalism as its core principle. The 2011 eruption of mass social unrest, the largest since the 1970s, focused on popular demands for housing as a basic right of citizenship. Indeed, protest started with a housing act: the creation of dozens of tent camps all over the country. Protesters called for a new polity based on housing, expressed by one of the movement’s symbols: an Israeli flag whose national/religious Star of David was replaced by a house. The right to housing was thereby proclaimed as the primary criterion for social inclusion. While the housing-based social movement initially puzzled Palestinian Israelis, tents soon appeared in Arab towns. Palestinian-Israeli participation proved significant, forming surprising alliances among social strata previously understood as irrevocably polarized. Examining the camps of Jaffa and Qalansuwa, this article looks into the history and implications of housing for Palestinian Israelis, and for Israeli society at large. Using Chantal Mouffe’s and Bruno Latour’s work, we ask: ‘Can dwelling be a strong enough ground for a citizenry-based polity?’