There are vast differences in the ways Israeli Arabs and their Palestinian Authority counterparts view the “Iron Swords War” launched on October 7th against Israel by Gaza’s ruling Hamas terrorist organization, and its outcomes.
Israeli Arabs are nearly evenly divided over whether Israel is justified in its response to the horrific invasion by Hamas and its terrorist allies on October 7, and the tortures, massacre and abductions that followed, according to a survey carried out by the Moshe Dayan Center at Tel Aviv University.
But in a poll of 668 respondents by Arab World For Research and Development, just 13 percent of Palestinians Authority Arabs opposed the Oct 7th massacre on Israel, resulting in 1,200 deaths and hundreds taken hostage. Moreover, 59 percent of those polled “strongly supported” the attack, 16 percent expressed “some support” and 11 percent said they were “neutral.”
The majority of respondents viewed the current war as a conflict targeting “all Palestinians”, believe the end of the war will lead to the release of all Palestinian Authority “political prisoners” held in Israeli jails and expect a victory in which Gaza repels “the Israeli invasion.”
The figures are considerably different in the Israeli Arab arena as seen in the Tel Aviv University survey by the Moshe Dayan Center.
Those findings indicate that 47 percent of the Arab population feel that Israel’s response to the Hamas attack on Oct. 7th, 2023 was justified — but 44 percent do not.
In addition, most Israeli Arabs — 57 percent — believe that the Hamas terrorists intentionally targeted women and children in the communities near the Gaza border; but a significant number, 32 percent, do not believe it.
The researchers surveyed 502 Israeli Arab citizens age 18 and above who constitute a representative sample of the adult Israeli Arab population.
The study was initiated by the Konrad Adenauer Program for Jewish-Arab Cooperation, which represents the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, and which is part of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University.
The data indicate that about half of the respondents believe that the Hamas attack on Oct. 7th did not contribute to a solution of the “Palestinian problem”; 21 percent of the respondents said it did contribute to a solution, while 19 percent said the attack “had no impact.”
A significant majority (85 percent) positively viewed the initiatives by Arab citizens to provide aid to residents of the Western Negev, and slightly more than half, 54 percent, also approved Israeli Arab participation in the advocacy efforts to present Israel’s position to the world.
However, in a seeming contradiction, when asked about solidarity 70 percent of the participants responded that solidarity between Arabs and Jews in Israel has weakened following the events of Oct. 7th.
Dr. Arik Rudnitzky, the head of the program, noted that the study pointed to a major shift in the positions of Israeli Arabs, and greater identification with Israel.
“The war between Israel and Hamas, which began almost two months ago, has generated an unprecedented change in the positions of Israel’s Arab citizens,” Rudnitzky said.
“First and foremost, many identify with the communities of Otef Aza (the Gaza Envelope) and with Israel’s efforts to present its positions to the world.
“Identification with Israel is manifested in the fact that for the first time, and in contrast to all previous surveys, civic Israeli identity plays as strong a role as national Arab identity for Arab Israelis,” he noted.
Rudnitzky also said that the war has led to a head-on clash between the Israeli and Palestinian Authority narratives in the international media and on social media.
“It is also worth noting that identification with the Israeli narrative with regard to the events of Oct. 7th is higher among the younger generation of Arab Israelis,” he commented.
“This is a dramatic finding because relative to their elders, young people are more exposed not only to the Israeli and global media, but also to social media where the Israeli narrative is at a disadvantage.”
Rudnitzky also noted, however, that Israeli Arabs have expressed anxiety about possible harassment by Israeli Jews because of the war.
“At the same time, there is anxiety among Arab Israelis who fear harassment by Jewish Israelis because of the war. Clearly, the violent events of May 2021 resonate in the minds of many, Jews and Arabs alike, but it is important to understand that the war in October 2023 is an entirely different story from the events in May 2021. We should bear this in mind following the conclusion of the war. The country’s Arab citizens are signaling to the Jewish population and the government that they are an integral part of the State of Israel.”