'Over half of Israel’s Arab’s accept Jewish state'

Annual Jewish-Arab Relations Index shows that along with deteriorating view of Israeli policies towards Arab minority, 58% accept life in Israel.

Women walking in the mixed Arab-Jewish city Lod 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Women walking in the mixed Arab-Jewish city Lod 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
More than half of Israel’s Arab population has grown to accept life in a Jewish, democratic state, even though the overwhelming majority still holds Jews responsible for inflicting the “Nakba” – or catastrophe – on the Palestinian people in 1948.
According to the results of the annual Jewish-Arab Relations Index – which has been carried out for the past 30 years by Prof. Sammy Smooha from the University of Haifa’s Jewish-Arab Center – this year’s survey shows that along with a deteriorating view of the Jewish state’s policies towards its Arab minority, some 58 percent of Israeli Arabs have accepted life in Israel.
“I call it the resignation and reconciliation of Arabs in a Jewish democratic country,” Smooha told The Jerusalem Post Thursday, just before revealing the full results of the survey at a conference at the university.
“This year we asked respondents if they accepted the living situation as opposed to whether they prefer it.”
He explained that while most of those questioned for the survey said they would prefer a binational state where they were recognized and where they did not feel discriminated against, the majority said they were willing to accept life in a country where most people are Jewish.
“Their life keeps going even though they feel some things are not justified. They know they can’t change the situation democratically and they know they can’t change the situation in a non-democratic way,” observed Smooha, adding that the views held by the Arab public do not necessarily concur with those held by the Arab leadership.
“There is a gap between the two,” he explained.
“The Arab public just wants to live its life, they know there are good things about living in this country. It is a country that upholds the law, there is a welfare system and it’s modern.”
Asked about the 42% who did not express an acceptance of living in Israel with the conditions as they are, Smooha said that they would most likely prefer either a fully binational Jewish- Arab state or to be living in a Palestinian country.
Among the other findings of the survey, which used a sample of 702 Jews and 715 Arab, the index showed that 80% of Israeli Arabs still hold Jewish leaders responsible for what happened in 1948 when Israel was created and hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled their homes or were displaced.
The survey found that some 38% of Israeli Arabs participate annually in events commemorating the Nakba and 76% feel that laws such as the “Nakba Law,” which forbids commemorating the event, weaken their faith in coexistence with the Jews.
In addition to the 58% of those who accept Israel as a democratic Jewish state, a similar number (56.6%) said they accept that Israel’s dominant language is Hebrew and 58% said they had no problem with Saturday being Israel’s day of rest.
Nearly 70% also said they would prefer to live in Israel than in any other country in the world.
While this seems encouraging, Smooha pointed out that looking back over the years of the study, negative views towards the state seem to have grown. While in this year’s index 19% of Israeli Arabs said they still deny Israel’s right to exist, that number was only 11% in 2003.
Additionally, the index found that 63.5% of the Arabs said they believe that it is not justified for Israel to maintain a Jewish majority, and 73% claimed that as Arabs they are treated as second class citizens or are viewed as citizens who do not deserve equality.