A survey of Arab citizens of Israel has found more positive attitudes to the state and its institutions than was previously thought.
Sixty percent surveyed said they had a favorable view of the state, while 37% said their view was unfavorable.
The poll, whose findings were released Wednesday, was conducted by the Israel office of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, the Konrad Adenauer Program for Jewish-Arab Cooperation at Tel Aviv University’s Dayan Center and Keevoon, a research, strategy and communications company.
The poll, conducted last month, surveyed 876 citizens of Israel and 125 east Jerusalem permanent residents. It had a margin of error of 2.25%.
Broken down by religion, 49% of Muslims view the state favorably compared with 48% unfavorably, while 61% of Christians view it favorably compared to 33% unfavorably.
Ninety-four percent of Druse view the state favorably compared to 6% unfavorably.
The survey showed that slightly more Israeli-Arabs have favorable views of the legal system, Supreme Court and police than unfavorable ones. The latter finding is seen as reflecting tremendous worries about crime in Arab communities.
“The number of people who agreed to respond positively when asked about state institutions is quite remarkably high,” said Itamar Radai, academic director of the Adenauer Program and a scholar at the Dayan Center. “It reflects a general desire to be more incorporated and to participate more.”
At the same time, racism was listed as a top concern by respondents and 47% of them said they feel “generally treated unequally” as Arab citizens.
Most respondents also said that Arab citizens are getting an unfair distribution of tax revenues.
In the view of Michael Borchard, Israel director of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, one of the most significant findings came in response to the question posed to citizens, “Which term best describes you?” The largest number, 28%, replied “Israeli Arab” while 11% said “Israeli,” 13% said “Arab citizen of Israel” and 2% said “Israeli Muslim.” Only 15% said “Palestinian” while 4% said “Palestinian in Israel,” 3% said “Palestinian citizen in Israel” and 2% said “Israeli Palestinian.”
Eight percent of respondents said their preferred self-identification was “Muslim.”
“The bottom line is there is more identification with Israel than with a possible Palestinian state,” Borchard said. “They want to be recognized in their specific identity but have no problem to be related in a way to Israel.”
Borchard also highlighted that 63% of Arab citizens surveyed said Israel is a “positive” place to live, with 34% saying it is negative, while respondents also gave high marks to the country for having a “strong” degree of personal freedom and a “strong” amount of stability.
“The sense of stability, amount of personal freedom and quality of life compared to surrounding countries is appreciated,” Borchard said.
The survey asked citizen respondents to rate on a scale of 1-10 how much “belonging” to the State of Israel they have. Forty-five percent gave responses between 8 and 10, 17% between 5 and 7 and 35% between 1 and 4.
Asked if they would be proud or embarrassed if a relative became a member of Knesset, 73% responded they would be proud and 16% embarrassed.
The survey found that Arab citizens are more concerned about the economy, crime and equality than the Palestinian issue. Asked which issue most concerns them, 22% of Arab citizens said personal security and crime and an equal number said racism. Fifteen percent said the economy and jobs, while 13% said the Palestinian issue.
“People have been living in Israel for the last 70 years and have a desire to be more incorporated,” said Radai.
“Their interest in the Palestinian issue can be compared to Israeli Jews being interested in Jews around the world even as domestic issues are a higher priority.”
Asked about the policy implications of the survey, Brochard said: “Israel should do more to answer this rather positive attitude and be more inclusive and not have these ongoing allegations that these people are not loyal or not to be trusted because the dynamics speak another language.”
MK Yousef Jabareen (Joint List), responded to the survey’s findings by saying that it might be putting too positive an image in terms of how Arabs view their situation in Israel.
Participation in the state and decision- making, he said, “is our demand but it’s the government that excludes us and has this campaign of delegitimization.
Wanting participation is an aspiration but it doesn’t reflect the situation on the ground.”
He added: “When it comes to being satisfied with the situation, when I meet people from my community I always hear concerns about increasing discrimination and racism, they’re worried about their socioeconomic status, an absence of jobs and housing so my own look at things encounters mostly worries about the future.”