The city of Tel Aviv presents itself as a bastion of liberal values, tolerance, and ultimately of freedom. But like many self-definitions, there is something of a gap between this description and the reality of everyday life. In this gap resides a hidden reality—Palestinians who work, study, and live as an unseen minority, to some degree denied full benefits of equal urban citizenship.

Much of the discourse concerning this descriptive gap focuses on attempts to preserve or contextualise the claim to social liberalism from the Israeli Jewish perspective. A new book by the anthropologist Andreas Hackl, takes a different point of view. The Invisible Palestinians: The Hidden Struggle for Inclusion in Jewish Tel Aviv (Indiana UP, 2022) focuses on what he terms the “immersive invisibility” of Israel’s minority Palestinian population: the challenges they face, the strategies they deploy, and ultimately the consequences of acts of personal and collective self-censorship that define and circumscribe their everyday life and presence in Tel Aviv.

The Invisible Palestinians documents the experiences of a diverse Palestinian population in the Jewish Israeli city: residents and commuters, professionals and day laborers, activists, artists, students. Differences of education, economic wherewithal, and social class aside, all share one central experience: circumscribed citizenship of the Jewish metropolis.

Andreas Hackl is Lecturer in Anthropology of Development at the University of Edinburgh. His research has been published in leading academic journals such as World Development, American Ethnologist, and Social Anthropology. He has worked as a consultant with the International Labour Organization and as a newspaper correspondent based in Jerusalem.

Akin Ajayi (@AkinAjayi) is a writer and editor, based in Tel Aviv.

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