Photo Credit: U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv
Israeli Jewish and Arab 16-year old students learn the art of negotiation and conflict resolution.

Among Israeli Arabs, only 14% identify themselves as “Palestinians,” and they are mostly Muslims, a new study found.

The Arab citizens of Israel represent a little more than 20% of the state’s overall population, 83.5% of whom are Muslims, 8.9% Christians, and 7.6% Druze. According to the new study (Jews and Arabs: Conditional Partnership), issued by The Israel Democracy Institute, the complex relationship between Jews and Arabs in the State of Israel exists on three levels that do not necessarily overlap: state, societal and interpersonal.


On the one hand, the study shows that definite, substantial disagreements exist between Jews and Arabs on the state level, but, at the same time, relations on the societal and, even more so, on personal levels, are less tense. In certain areas of life, the study found, the situation is actually quite positive.

In the area of Self-Definition, as a rule, those Jewish Israelis who self-identify primarily as Jews tend to express more discriminatory and exclusionary opinions regarding Arabs than those who self-identify as Israeli, according to the study. The self-definition as “Palestinian” as a primary identity is more common among Muslims, young educated people, and those who have first-degree relatives living in Judea and Samaria.

The minority that self-identifies as Palestinian tends to express more critical opinions of the State of Israel, Jews and Israelis. In addition, they are more skeptical regarding the possibility of their being able to integrate into Israeli society.

The self-definition of Israeli Arabs broke down into Arab identity – 39%; Religious identity (Muslim, Christian, Druze) – 34%; Palestinian identity – 14%; Israeli identity – 10%.

The self-definition of Israeli Jews was: Israeli identity – 38%; Jewish identity – 29%; Religious identity – 23.5%; Ethnic identity – 4%.

The same study found that 68% of Jews believe that it is not possible to feel part of the Palestinian people and still be a loyal citizen of the State of Israel. Only on the Jewish left-wing there is a majority that sees such a possibility as feasible. However, 54% of Arabs feel part of Israeli society – but 69% of Arabs believe that Jews do not see them as part of Israeli society. 63% of Jews believe that Arabs feel that they are not part of Israeli society. Pretty much on the mark.

Finally, 52% of Jews believe that it would be better for Jews and Arabs to live separately so that the Jews can preserve their Jewish identity – while 77% of Arabs do not want to live separately.

A complex relationship between Jews and Arabs, indeed.


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