Financial Times peddles myth that most Arab-Israelis identify as ‘Palestinian’

A Financial Times article by their Middle-East editor Andrew England (“Can Jews and Arabs still coexist peacefully within Israel?”, Dec. 7) peddled the myth that most Arab citizens of Israel identify as ‘Palestinian.

In the other corner, the 2mn Arab-Israelis, most of whom identify as Palestinians and are sympathetic to the decades-old Palestinian cause, have been outraged by the death and destruction caused by Israel’s bombardment of Gaza.

There is quite a bit of polling contradicting their claim, including a recent survey conducted by the by Tel-Aviv University, part of the Konrad Adenauer Program for Israeli-Arab Cooperation, which shows that only 8% of Arab-Israelis see their Palestinian identity as most important to them – down from 16.5% only six months ago.  Also, over 33% of Arab-Israelis now see their Israeli identity as most important, up from 21% in May.

This arguably shows that that the Hamas massacre has actually solidified their Israeli identity.

Also, even prior to this latest poll, there was ample evidence that the overwhelming majority of Arab-Israelis don’t consider themselves to be ‘Palestinians’

This inaccurate characterisation about the identity of Arab citizens of Israel infects other sections of the article, such as when readers are told  that “rarely — if ever — has there been such a stern test as the eight-week Israel-Hamas war. Both Jews and Palestinians are mourning unprecedented numbers of dead from their respective communities.”  This again falsely suggests that Arab citizens of the state primarily identify as Palestinians, and that they, therefore, consider Palestinians in Gaza to be part of ‘their’ community.

However, this claim, and others, such as a sentence in the peace claiming that Arab-Israelis “have been outraged by the death and destruction caused by Israel’s bombardment of Gaza“, isn’t supported by the available data.  The same poll cited above shows that a plurality of Arab-Israelis (47%) support Israel’s military operation in Gaza.

The FT article also devotes a lot of space to detailing how Arab-Israelis have been discriminated against or threatened since Oct. 7.

Again, the polling doesn’t back up the thrust of their narrative, as – citing the same survey – a “large majority of the respondents (89%) report that they themselves have not been harassed by Jewish citizens” since the Hamas attacks.

Once again, we see how the desired media narrative of Arab-Jewish relations in Israel doesn’t hold up to critical scrutiny.

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