Guardian ignores the evidence, and sticks to the script on Arab-Israelis

A March 10 Guardian article ignored evidence suggesting greater unity between Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel after Oct. 7th, and instead peddled their desired narrative.  Both the headline and the text of the article (“Silenced for months, Arab Israeli towns hold first Gaza war protests”, March 10), by Emma Graham-Harrison and Quique Kierszenbaum, are designed to convey the standard Guardian line on Arab citizens of the state – a narrative exemplified in this paragraph:

Israel’s Jewish and Arab populations already lived fairly segregated lives, but divisions widened into chasms in the wake of the 7 October cross-border attacks by Hamas, which killed about 1,200 people, including Arabs, and saw more than 240 kidnapped to Gaza, and after the Israeli assault that followed.

Palestinians are losing their jobs and their livelihoods, and feel stifled by a political climate that makes it almost impossible for them to criticise the government.

The reality is far different.

A November poll by the Israeli Democracy Institute (IDI) showed that Arab Israelis’ sense of kinship with the state was at a 20-year high following the Oct. 7 attacks – with 70% identifying with the state and its problems. Though the latest such poll shows that these numbers reverted back to pre-war levels, the ‘rally around the flag’ response by Israel’s Arab citizens to the Hamas’s atrocities surprised many, and stood in stark contrast to the Arab rioting that erupted in mixed cities during the May 2021 war.

In the same IDI poll, when asked if, given an alternative Western citizenship, they would leave Israel, 59% of Arab-Israelis said that they would stay in the Jewish state.

A December IDI poll showed that an overwhelming majority of Arab Israelis support assisting with civilian volunteering efforts during the war — such as helping evacuees, and providing medical assistance.

A separate poll, conducted by the Agam Institute at Hebrew University, showed that 80% of Arab-Israelis opposed the October 7, 2023 attacks, and 66% support Israel’s right to defend itself against the terrorist group, while another comprehensive study conducted by the Konrad Adenauer Program for Jewish-Arab Cooperation (KAP) at Tel Aviv University showed that a plurality of Arab-Israelis feel that Israel’s military response to the Hamas attack is justified.

“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. First and foremost, many identify with the communities of Otef Aza [Gaza border communities], and with Israel’s efforts to present its positions to the world,” the head of KAP at TAU, Dr. Arik Rudnitzky, said in a press statement.  “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”, Dr. Rudnitzky added.

The  KAP poll also contradicted the British media narrative that Arab citizens primarily identify as ‘Palestinian’. Israeli identity came out first – the most important identity (33.2%), while Palestinian identity came in last, with only 8.2%.

Additionally, the Economist reported that the war against Hamas is “eroding workplace barriers” between Jews and Arabs. With “hundreds of thousands of Jewish reservists have gone to fight”, the January article (“Even as war rages in Gaza, Israel’s Arabs are feeling more Israeli”, Jan. 18) observed, “Israeli firms have recruited Palestinians from Israel and occupied East Jerusalem in their place”.  More broadly, the article attributed the increased Arab identification with the state after Oct. 7 to, among other factors, the shared horror at Hamas and the threat it poses. On October 7th the Islamists abducted Israeli Arabs and Jews alike.

While the reality of Arab-Jewish relations in Israel is of course complicated, contrary to the Guardian’s claim, there is no evidence that “divisions have widened” since Oct. 7, and considerable data showing that the opposite is more likely the truth.

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1 Comment

  1. says: David Huskisson

    Where was this poll taken? Within Israel presumably, but including Judea and Samaria (the West Bank)? It’s a welcome and potentially very significant revelation, which could affect all future relationships, including elections, but without knowing the source of the opinions canvassed, they shoot their credibility in the foot, as far as my trust is concerned. Probably just very bad reporting. Such a shame – I would like to believe it.

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