Poll: Most Arabs want to live in Israel

Thursday, June 07, 2012 |  Ryan Jones

The Palestinian Authority, the international media and even elected Israeli-Arab politicians all try to portray life for Arabs in Israel as oppressive and on-par with what black Africans experienced during the Apartheid in South Africa. But time and again, evidence on the ground simply does not support their theory.

Most telling is the publicly-voiced opinion of Israeli-Arabs themselves. In an annual poll conducted by Haifa University and published this week, it was again revealed that a clear majority (68.3%) of Arabs prefer living in Israel over any other country in the world. Seventy-one percent of Arab respondents merely said that Israel is a good place to live, while a full 60 percent described Israel as a "homeland."

Seemingly contradicting themselves, 80 percent of Arab respondents blamed the Jews for the "Nakba" or the "disaster" that was the modern rebirth of Israel, though 60 percent said they now accept Israel as a Jewish state and nearly as many have no problem that the nation's public institutions and characteristics are defined by Judaism.

But there was also cause for concern.

Nineteen percent of Arab respondents denied Israel's right to exist, up from just 11 percent in 2003. And while 57 percent said they would support a referendum defining Israel as a Jewish state, that number was 70 percent in the 2006 survey.

There has been a greater effort of late to radicalize the younger generation of Israeli Arabs. Many have brushed off any attempts to recruit them into radical ideologies, but a growing minority has been taken in by Palestinian nationalism.

Not a few Jewish politicians say the government is at least partially to blame, and that greater efforts must be made to integrate young Arabs into Israeli life.

"One of these days it will dawn on Israeli politicians that the foremost challenge the country faces, more serious than the peace process with its neighbors, is integrating its large Arab minority into the fabric of society," wrote former Defense Minister Moshe Arens in the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz in 2010.

* Photo: Rana Raslan, an Israeli Arab crowned Miss Israel in 1999, who once described herself as "totally Israeli"

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