AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/Getty Images
A Palestinian woman belonging to a group who call themselves Murabitat reads a copy of the Kuran, Islam’s holy book, as a Jewish Orthodox man walks past her in Jerusalem’s Old City on September 10, 2015.AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/Getty Images
Navigate to News section

Two-Thirds of Israeli Arabs Believe the State Has No Right to Define Itself as Jewish

Which, according to a majority of Israeli Jews, should cost Arab citizens their right to vote

by
Liel Leibovitz
November 08, 2017
AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/Getty Images
A Palestinian woman belonging to a group who call themselves Murabitat reads a copy of the Kuran, Islam's holy book, as a Jewish Orthodox man walks past her in Jerusalem's Old City on September 10, 2015.AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/Getty Images

A survey released yesterday by the Israel Democracy Institute found that a majority of the country’s Arab citizens rejected its right to call itself as a Jewish state. According to the study, entitled “A Limited Partnership,” 67 percent of Israeli Arab respondents said that “the State of Israel had no right to be defined as the national home of the Jewish people,” while 58 percent of Jews said that “those who are unwilling to declare that Israel is the national home of the Jewish people should lose the right to vote.” Similarly, 69 percent of Arabs believe their Jewish neighbors do not see them as an integral part of Israeli society, and 63 percent of Jews believe that Israeli Arabs do not perceive of themselves as part of Israeli society.

The picture gets even grimmer as the survey unfolds. Asked about their beliefs regarding the other group, 50.5 percent of Arab respondents said they were convinced Jews were violent people, while 51 percent of Jews thought the same thing of Arabs.

But anyone looking for a silver lining has only to look into Israeli offices for a bit of unbridled hope. Among Jews and Arabs who work together, 89.5 percent of Jews and 95 percent of Arabs described relations between both groups as good or very good.

“It’s hard, if not impossible, to point to one specific direction in which the relationship between Israeli Arab and Jews is moving,” the Institute said in an official statement. “Here, we have simultaneously two contradictory trends, one indicating assimilation and the other alienation.”

A good first step towards making sure everyone comes to see the glass as half-full may have to do with language. According to the survey, only six percent of Israeli Jews can currently chat in Arabic, compared with 69 percent of Israeli Arabs who are fluent in Hebrew.

Liel Leibovitz is editor at large for Tablet Magazine and a host of its weekly culture podcast Unorthodox and daily Talmud podcast Take One.