Yes they love the social benefit of the state. That don't make them less hostile element
Poll: 77% of Israeli Arabs would rather live in Israel than in any other country in the world
By Bradley Burston, Haaretz Correspondent
Tags: Harvard, Israeli Arabs, poll
A recent opinion poll conducted by Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government found that 77 percent of Israeli Arabs would rather live in Israel than in any other country in the world.
The survey of 1,721 Israelis, both Arab and Jewish, also showed that 73 percent of the Jews and 94 percent of the Arabs want Israel to "be a society in which Arab and Jewish citizens have mutual respect and equal opportunities."
The Kennedy School said in a statement that the poll produced a number of results it termed surprising, pointing to a higher level of co-existence than might have been anticipated.
The research comes at a period of simmering tensions in some sectors of the Arab-Jewish divide within Israel.
The release of the poll coincided with celebrations, accompanied by widespread Israeli Arab boycotts, of the 60th anniversary of the state's declaration of independence.
Israeli Arab MKs cited widespread discrimination as the cause of the boycotts. At the same time, MK Limor Livnat (Likud) proposed that the Knesset remove Arabic from its list of the country's official primary languages.
However, Professor Todd Pittinsky, research director of the Kennedy School's Center for Public Leadership and lead researcher for the poll, said that the results pointed to a contrary phenomenon. Much media coverage focuses on the divisions between Jewish and Arab citizens in Israel, and not enough on the sincere and concerted efforts to coexist peacefully, Pittinsky said in a statement.
According to the poll, 68 percent of Jewish citizens support teaching conversational Arabic in Jewish schools to help bring Arab and Jewish citizens together.
The data also showded that more than two-thirds of Israeli Jews (69 percdent) said they believed that contributing to co-existence was a personal responsibility.
"Every day, innovative experiments in coexistence are going on," Pittinsky said.
"People on the ground in Israel are running community centers that enable cultural exchanges; in bilingual schools?like the Hand in Hand network of schools - young Jewish and Arab children become culturally conversant with each other. These deserve as much attention as rockets and roadblocks. They should be nurtured, studied, funded, and reported in the media. Ultimately the most successful efforts should be launched on a wider scale."
The study, conducted in Hebrew and Arabic with the assistance of University of Haifa researchers, was funded by the Alan B. Slifka foundation, which has sponsored a number of coexistence projects.
"This report supports what we have long suspected?unity among Israel?s Jewish and Arab communities is not only attainable, but there is great public support for it," philanthropist Slifka said.
"The critical next step is for Israeli policy makers to bring about the structural changes that the Jewish and Arab publics support, to reshape the educational, income, residential, and other divides that undermine national unity."
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Israeli Arabs love Israel
Adam LeBor, June 28th 2008, 6:29 pm
A recent poll reported in Haaretz showed that 77 per cent of Israeli Arabs would rather live in Israel than any other country. This encouraging news was accompanied by the statistic that 94 per cent of Arab citizens want Israel to be â€œa country in which Arab and Jewish citizens have mutual respect and equal opportunitiesâ€.
The poll was conducted by the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and the pollsters declared themselves surprised by the findings, which pointed towards a higher level of co-existence than they had thought. My own anecdotal finding confirm this: when I was researching my book in Jaffa, almost all the Aras I interviewed said they defined themselves as â€œPalestinian citizens of Israelâ€. Yet not a single one said they would rather live in a Palestinian state, even if a meaningful state came into existence. The reasons were varied, but basically boiled down to the fact that Israel is a democracy, with a rule of law. Unlike all of its neighbours.
A businessman said if he had a problem with his premises he could call Tel Aviv municipality and someone would be over the next day to fix things. A retired Christian Palestinian said he did not feel comfortable in Ramallah because the social codes of dress and hospitality had not evolved since 1948 (when, in many respects Palestinian society has been frozen, rather like east Europe under Communism) and he could not wear shorts. And so on.
My own analysis of why the Harvard pollsters were surprised is based on the rather bizarre nature of being a Jerusalem correspondent for a major western news organisation. Jerusalem correspondents are basically Ramallah correspondents and mainly report on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They rarely report on Israel itself, unless the government is about to collapse or something like that. The complexities of Israeli society and its robust democracy go largely ignored. Perhaps the Harvard poll will be a hook for a few articles about Israel itself.
One topic worth examining is the complex and often bitter relationship between Arab citizens of Israel and those in the Occupied Territories and global diaspora. Both sides often regard each other with disdain: the exiles say that Arab citizens of Israel have betrayed the Palestinian cause by taking Israeli citizenship and learning Hebrew. The Arab Israelis have a simple answer to that: we stayed in our homeland - you left.
Title edited to conform with TN rules