When the state of Israel was established in 1948, not all Palestinians became refugees: some stayed behind and were soon granted citizenship. Those who remained, however, were relegated to second-class status in this new country, controlled by a military regime that restricted their movement and political expression. For two decades, Palestinian citizens of Israel were cut off from friends and relatives on the other side of the Green Line, as well as from the broader Arab world. Yet they were not passive in the face of this profound isolation.
Palestinian intellectuals, party organizers, and cultural producers in Israel turned to the written word. Through writers like Mahmoud Darwish and Samih al-Qasim, poetry, journalism, fiction, and nonfiction became sites of resistance and connection alike. With this book, Maha Nassar examines their well-known poetry and uncovers prose works that have, until now, been largely overlooked. The writings of Palestinians in Israel played a key role in fostering a shared national consciousness and would become a central means of alerting Arabs in the region to the conditions—and to the defiance—of these isolated Palestinians.
Brothers Apart is the first book to reveal how Palestinian intellectuals forged transnational connections through written texts and engaged with contemporaneous decolonization movements throughout the Arab world, challenging both Israeli policies and their own cultural isolation. Maha Nassar reexamines these intellectuals as the subjects, not objects, of their own history and brings to life their perspectives on a fraught political environment. Her readings not only deprovincialize the Palestinians of Israel, but write them back into Palestinian, Arab, and global history.