This study addresses the Islamic Movement in Israel. Hitherto studied almost exclusively from the political perspective, this article sheds light on its social roles as a provider of welfare services to the Palestinian population. It does so by analysing its unique Independent Community (IC) concept, which calls for self-reliance in welfare service provision. Despite its importance, the concept, which applies to all spheres of life and is relevant to other indigenous minorities, has received relatively little attention in the literature. The present study, which is part of the ‘religious turn’ in welfare state literature, addresses this gap by describing IC and its development, and by explaining how the concept developed in the context of the Palestinian population's social discrimination and exclusion.
Based on findings from various archival sources and interviews with movement leaders, the article concludes that the concept of IC is a response to discriminatory and exclusionary welfare policies. Together with the broader local and global process of welfare state retrenchment, this created a vacuum that proved fertile ground for the emergence of IC, calling for a reshaping of Israel's social policies and the role played by the welfare state vis-à-vis faith-based organizations that represent indigenous minorities.