New Poll of Israeli Arabs Reinforces Concerns They Will Increasingly Support ISIS
But Fellowship-sponsored survey shows Israeli-Arab patriotism will grow if the community feels the Israeli government treats them as equal to Jews
JERUSALEM, Jan. 22 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 Israel’s widely respected Stat-net Institute, which specializes in the Israeli-Arab community, shows Israeli Arabs 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.
The survey found 67 percent of Israeli Arabs feel discriminated against and 71 percent feel that low-income Israeli Jews receive more state aid than they do. Further, 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.
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.
About The Fellowship
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein founded The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews ( Fellowship) in 1983 to promote better understanding and cooperation between Christians and Jews, and build broad support for Israel. Today, The Fellowship is the world’s largest organization of Christians actively working with Jews to support Israel and the Jewish people. Since its founding, The Fellowship has raised close to $1.25 billion for this work. The organization has offices in the U.S., Israel, Canada, Australia, Brazil, and South Korea. For more information please visit www.ifcj.org.
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