Israel’s relationship with its Palestinian citizens has been on the agenda for many years. In 1973, Shmuel Toledano, who served as Arab affairs advisor under three prime ministers, penned a report analyzing this relationship and offering projections into the future. “The cumulative baggage of bitterness, alienation and disappointment with the state on the one hand and Jewish society on the other have reached, in my estimation, alarming proportions, with time working fervently against us,” Toledano wrote. Still, rather than suggest ways to improve the relationship, the report shifts the blame back to Israel’s Palestinian citizens: “Most of them fall into the arms of the Communist Party, a few into the arms of terrorist organizations.”
Nearly five months after the report’s submission to the prime minister, it was discussed or at least mentioned in a government meeting. The transcripts of the meeting remain classified, except one page that is available for public access. The available material shows that Prime Minister Meir took Toledano’s report seriously and that the government did discuss it. Meir took a rather sober approach to Toledano’s findings: We have done a lot, she told her cabinet, but not enough to pat ourselves on the back.
Israeli Arabs - Situation Assessment and Projection
“In Israel’s 25th year, the country, and Jewish society, stand at a crossroads in terms of their relationship with the Arab national minority living among it.” This is the opening statement in the report Arab Affairs Advisor Toledano submitted to Prime Minister Golda Meir. The statement remains relevant to this day, partly because while the report does strive to understand the positions, difficulties, and mindset of Israel’s Palestinian citizens, it fails to make any serious suggestions as to how to change the situation, other than public advocacy among Jewish society.