New Poll: Israeli Arabs could support government more if treated better

Fellowship-sponsored survey shows Israeli-Arab patriotism will grow if the community feels the Israeli government treats them as equal to Jews

 

  • 67 percent of Israeli Arabs feel discriminated against and 71 percent feel that low-income Israeli Jews receive more state aid than they do.
  • 54 percent of Israeli Arabs feel the government, including Israeli-Arab legislators, do not care about their interests.
  • Only 20 percent of low-income Israeli Arabs who feel they are being treated unfairly compared to poor Israeli Jews said they feel strongly or very strongly connected to Israel.
  • In contrast, 47 percent of those who felt they were being treated equally to poor Israeli Jews feel strongly connected to Israel.
  • Similarly, while only 38 percent of Israeli Arabs who feel they lack equal rights in Israel say they would perform national service, 58 percent of those who feel they are treated equally would do voluntary service.

A new poll of the Israeli-Arab community commissioned by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship) reinforces the need for Israel’s government to fulfill its promises to improve conditions for Israel’s Arabs, said The Fellowship’s founder and president, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein.

A new opinion poll of a representative sample of 500 low-income Israeli Arabs by Stat-net Institute, which specializes in the Israeli-Arab community, shows they are more likely to feel strongly connected to the Jewish state if they believe the government is treating them fairly and helping them to the same extent it helps low-income Jewish citizens.

The survey went further, finding that a slight majority of Israeli Arabs said that if they received the same services as poor Israeli Jews, they would participate in Israel’s national service volunteer program.

Yousef Makladeh, CEO of Statnet.co.il told The Jerusalem Post that the poll “was very emotional for his workers and they had to stop some interviews in the middle because it was too hard to continue.”

For example, he said that one poor Arab handicapped man began to cry on the phone that he lacks money and lives on only 1, 500 NIS from the government. An old lady, who has 10 children who do not support her, began crying in the interview and said she can hardly make it to the store. The Statnet interviewer tried to comfort her.

Makledeh said the results also found that more than 100, 000 Arabs say they do not have the ability to buy medicine, clothing, or food.

 

The results reflect and go beyond other similar surveys showing growing social polarization in Israel. One recent poll found that only 20 percent of Israeli Jews consider Israeli Arabs their equals, and that 70 percent of Israeli Arabs both identify as Israeli in some form yet also say equal rights ranks as their most pressing concern. Government officials recently warned of rising support among Israeli Arabs for ISIS as well. Earlier this month, an Israeli Arab killed two and injured five in a Tel Aviv terror attack.

The latest poll by The Fellowship underscores the urgent need for the Israeli government to finally deliver on its promises of boosting support for Israel’s low-income Arab citizens, for ethical, moral and pragmatic reasons, said Eckstein, and in the wake of the government’s recent pledge to increase spending on the Israeli-Arab community.

“The survey shows Israel should be caring more for its Arab citizens and investing in them the same way it does with its most vulnerable Jewish citizens, not only for moral reasons but also to counter the threat of political extremism and to promote patriotism. If we don’t invest in Israel’s Arab citizens, ISIS will, ” said Eckstein.

“We found a direct correlation between Israeli Arabs’ feelings of being treated equally to Jews and their sense of belonging to society and even their willingness to serve, ” added Eckstein. “If we can change the numbers, we can avoid Israeli Arabs becoming a strategic threat.”

The poll was commissioned to measure the impact of The Fellowship’s financial support for low-income Israeli-Arab citizens. The Fellowship has invested more than $35 million on social welfare programs for Israeli Arabs in recent years, including on programs helping the elderly, children, and at-risk youth, and on drug abuse prevention, emergency financial aid, job empowerment for women, and other initiatives.

 

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