Year 24
Month 06
Day 07
Arab Citizens of Israel

Arab Minority; A Bone in the Throat​

About a fifth of Israel's population - roughly 1.45m people - are of Palestinian Arab descent. During the war that surrounded the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, hundreds of thousands of Arabs were forced from or fled their homes. Those who remained within what became Israel, and their descendents, have been granted citizenship and are known as Israeli Arabs. About 80% of Israeli Arabs are Muslim, the rest are divided, roughly equally, between Christians and Druze. The majority of Israeli Arabs identifies closely with Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza and often describe themselves as "Palestinian citizens of Israel" and "1948 Palestinians".



Today, Israeli Arabs comprise 21 percent of the Israeli population and 23 percent of Israeli doctors. More generally, Arabs comprise 16 percent of first-year students in higher education, compared to 8 percent a decade earlier. The presence of a 20 percent Muslim minority in the Occupied Palestinian Territories causes security problems, social, identity and demographic to Israel. The threat is felt strongly when population growth and fertility rates of Muslims is more than Jews.

Perceived demographic threat

In the northern part of Israel the percentage of Jewish population is declining. The increasing population of Arabs within Israel, and the majority status they hold in two major geographic regions — the Galilee and the Triangle — has become a growing point of open political contention in recent years. Dr. Wahid Abd Al-Magid, the editor of Al-Ahram Weekly's "Arab Strategic Report", predicts that: "The Arabs of 1948 (i.e. Arabs who stayed within the bounds of Israel and accepted citizenship) may become a majority in Israel in 2035, and they will certainly be the majority in 2048." Among Arabs, Muslims have the highest birth rate, followed by Druze, and then Christians. The phrase demographic threat (or demographic bomb) is used within the Israeli political sphere to describe the growth of Israel's Arab citizenry as constituting a threat to its maintenance of its status as a Jewish state with a Jewish demographic majority.



Jewish Democracy

Israel defines itself as both Jewish and democratic, but it is impossible for it to be both without discriminating against non-Jews.
One Israeli-Arab MK has described Israel as "democratic for Jews and Jewish for Arabs" and Israeli Arabs frequently describe themselves as "second class citizens". Today, a Jew from any country can move to Israel, while a Palestinian refugee, with a valid claim to property in Israel, cannot. 
Tragically for Palestinians, Zionism requires the state to empower and maintain a Jewish majority even at the expense of its non-Jewish citizens, and the occupation of the West Bank is only one part of it. What exists today between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea is therefore essentially one state, under Israeli control, where Palestinians have varying degrees of limited rights: 1.5 million are second-class citizens, and four million more are not citizens at all. If this is not apartheid, then whatever it is, it’s certainly not democracy.



Status of Arab Citizens of Israel

More than half of Israeli-Arab families are living in poverty, compared to about 15% of Jewish Israeli families, and the gap is widening. For all but one of the past five years, Israeli-Arab communities have received less than 5% of government development funding each year, according to the Mossawa advocacy centre.
Municipal services in many Israeli-Arab communities are inferior to those in Jewish areas, with classrooms shortages, ageing roads and a lack of local employment opportunities. Some Israelis blame lower levels of municipal tax collection in Israeli-Arab areas for the gap.
The Mossawa Centre says some Israeli Arabs are unwilling to pay taxes for poor local services, but adds that Israeli-Arab areas tend to have fewer of the factories, businesses and government offices that feed municipal coffers in other areas.



The US state department says Israeli Arabs are "underrepresented in most fields of employment". For example, the Mossawa Centre says only 8% of employees in government offices are Israeli-Arab and of 70,000 employees in hi-tech companies only 300 are Arabs. There is no state-funded Arabic language university. Israeli Arabs also miss out on benefits, such as housing and educational subsidies, available to people who have completed national service.

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