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Racism and the politics of signification: Israeli public discourse on racism towards Palestinian citizens

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This paper explores the phenomenology of racism using the Israeli situation as a case study to examine if, when and how the concept of 'racism' is employed in local media discourse on policy towards Palestinian citizens. Our central argument is that racism, as a signifier of policy, can be located in the dialectic between denial and affirmation of the category of race, while we link the scope and meanings of practices marked by the media as 'racism' to contingent cultural, social and historical conditions. The article proposes the periodization of the relevant discourse into three primary phases: from 1949 to the late 1970s, when the category of racism was 'prohibited' in Israeli discourse in the aftermath of the Holocaust; the mid-1980s, when this taboo was broken and the phenomena included in the category of racism expanded accordingly; and the 1990s to 2000, during which racism became an institutionalized, all-encompassing discursive term.
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Keywords: Holocaust; Palestinian-Arabs; Racism; interpretative frames; politics of signification; public discourse

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2008-09-01

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