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January 26, 2016 10:44 am

Survey of Israeli Arabs Finds Feelings of Alienation, Susceptibility to Extremism

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Israeli flags and Muslim minarets in Jerusalem's Old City. Photo: Dave Bender

The Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Photo: Dave Bender.

JNS.org – A new survey has found that a large majority of low-income Israeli Arabs feel deeply discriminated against and alienated, making them susceptible to growing extremism if the Israeli government does not fulfill promises to improve their social and economic living standards.

The survey, commissioned by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship) in conjunction with the Stat-net Institute, found that “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.”

According to the survey, 67 percent of Israeli Arabs feel discriminated against, while 71 percent feel that low-income Israeli Jews receive more state aid than they do. Furthermore, 54 percent of Israeli Arabs believe the government does not care about their interests.

“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 (Islamic State) will,” said Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, The Fellowship’s president and founder.

“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.”

In an attempt to improve the social and economic situation of Israeli Arabs, the Israeli government in December passed a NIS 15 billion ($3.84 billion) five-year plan to develop the Israeli Arab community and other minority populations.

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