Jewish-Arab Relations

THE ISSUE

Jewish-Arab Relations

Arab citizens make up a little over 20% of Israels population. While diverse in its own right, this sizable minority is a significant component of Israels diversity. The particular historic, social and economic realities of Israels Arab citizens raise issues related to inclusion, equality and social cohesion, but also offer important opportunity for growth and social development.

Jewish-Arab relations in Israel have known various ups and downs over the years, and to a large extent, are intertwined with and affected by the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians and between Israel and neighboring Arab countries. For example, during the 90s, with the Oslo Peace Process, internal relations saw what is now perceived as a “golden age,” while the outbreak of the Second Intifada in September 2000, the Second Lebanon War in the summer of 2006, and Israels military operation in Gaza Strip (“Cast Lead” - December 2008; Operation “Pillar of Defense” - 2012), heightened the tensions. In particular, the October 2000 events have had a long-lasting negative impact on the fabric of Jewish-Arab relations.

On the state level there are a number of laws and structures that promote shared society between Jews and Arabs, including within Israels Declaration of Independence and the recognition of Arabic as a second formal language. At the same time, there is no government definition regulating these relations and relatively little activity to promote better relations, with the exception of a few initiatives and programs within the Ministry of Education. Within civil society a wide variety of efforts to enhance better relations, coexistence and shared society have been in existence for decades, albeit with fluctuating public support depending on the political tensions.

In popular discourse on majority-minority relations in Israel, Jews often point to three major concerns: (1) Demographic concern: The higher natural growth rate of the Arab population (2.5% compared with 1.5% among the Jewish population) is considered by some to be a threat to Israels ability to sustain a Jewish majority over time. (2) “Re-opening of the ‘1948 Files’”: This includes the demand for the state to assume responsibility for the 1948 Palestinian Nakba (literally, the “catastrophe” of the loss of Palestine). (3) De-legitimization of the State of Israel, and/or for its Jewish nature, and demands to recognize the Arab minoritys collective identity and rights.

Arabs also list a series of concerns including (1) Erosion and questioning of their perceived belonging to the Israeli citizenry, manifested, for example in the discourse on population transfer under a future agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (promoted, among others, by Foreign Minister Lieberman). (2) Encroachments on civil rights, manifested in, for example, legislative initiatives demanding “loyalty” of Arabs as a precondition for civil rights, (3) Police violence against Arab citizens (e.g. the 13 Arabs killed by police fire in the October 2000 events) and civic violence in the form of “Price Tag” hate crimes.

These negative trends of mutual fear and suspicion are reflected in various public opinion surveys, while other surveys point to positive trends such as growing “Israelization” among Arab citizens, and enhanced economic integration and mutual acceptance between the two communities. 


Related Issues /Tags

PROGRAMS ON THIS ISSUE
Leo Baeck Early Childhood Shared Experiences
Four puppet theater bilingual story hours (Hebrew and Arabic) followed by arts and crafts; four story hour presentations ...
Implementing Organization: Leo Baeck Clore Center for Shared Existence
Entity Logo Image

Leo Baeck Elementary School Experiences
Four joint meetings of Jewish and Arab children from the Ben Yehuda and Sprinzak after-school centers for children at risk.
Implementing Organization: Leo Baeck Clore Center for Shared Existence
Entity Logo Image

Leo Baeck Arab-Jewish Summer Camp
Established in 1991, 45 Jewish and 45 Arab elementary school children participate in an annual summer day camp run by a staff ...
Implementing Organization: Leo Baeck Clore Center for Shared Existence
Entity Logo Image

Leo Baeck Arab-Jewish Basketball Team and Families
A leadership team of parents meets once every month and a half to organize events (joint meals, holiday celebration ...
Implementing Organization: Leo Baeck Clore Center for Shared Existence
Entity Logo Image

Halutz Program for Shared Society
The Challenge Every year about 1,500 new teachers join the Israeli education system. About 40% – many of whom have high ...
Implementing Organization: The Democratic Institute
Entity Logo Image