Monday, April 27, 2020


In our previous post, we looked at various surveys of Israeli Arabs over the past 9 years. Although the categories respondents were grouped in, and the way those categories could be combined, allowed for some contradictory results -- there was a clear indication that Israeli Arabs identify less and less as Palestinians and more and more as Israelis.

The most recent of those surveys was carried out by the Jewish People Policy Institute, which published their results last week on their site and held a video conference to discuss the results.

It was an hour well spent.

While there are a number of areas covered in the survey, the issue of Israeli Arab identification was particularly interesting:



Putting these results with previous surveys as outlined in the last post, and doing some tweaking to match the categories as much as possible, we get the following results:

IsraeliIsraeli-
Arab
Israeli-
Palestinian
Arab-
Palestinian
ArabPalestinianReligious
(Muslim,
Christian,
Druze)
Smooha I
(2012)
---40%40%20% ---------
Smooha II
(2014)
---32%45%22% ---------
Shaharit
(2017)
20.5--------- 28.4%14.6%35.8
+972 Magazine
(2019)
---46%19%--- 22%14%---
JPPI
(2020)
23%51%------ 15%7%---

Besides laying out the JPPI results more clearly than the last post, I also added the results of the Shaharit survey from 2017. It was mentioned during the JPPI conference call and is referenced in their report.

Since the Shaharit survey also teases out those Arabs who profess a purely Palestinian identity, it is helpful in providing support for the 972 and JPPI survey results that measure that category as well. The Shaharit survey also offered "Israeli" as a choice, just as the JPPI survey, and shows that number has remained fairly consistent and even increased slightly.

Again, the fact that the 972 survey was done both in 2014 and 2019 also lends support that there has been a decline in the number of Israeli Arabs who self-identify as Palestinians.



According to the JPPI survey:
This year a very meaningful difference was detected on this question, compared with last year, mainly in the responses of Muslim Arabs (who constitute the decisive majority of non-Jews in Israel). The change consists primarily of a steep rise in the percentage of those who define their primary identity as “Israeli,” versus a substantial decline in the percentage of those who define themselves as “Arab,” and a sharp drop in the percentage of those who define themselves as “Palestinian.” In fact, in this year’s survey fewer than one in ten non-Jews in Israel said that their primary identity was “Palestinian,” while a quarter of the respondents (23%) defined themselves as “Israeli.” The percentage of respondents who self-defined as “Arab Israeli” remained virtually unchanged, such that, on the whole, nearly three out of four non-Jews in Israel defined themselves as “Israeli” or “Arab Israeli.”
While 972 attributed their 2019 findings of increased pro-Israeli identification with possible intimidation by the ratifications of the Jewish Nation-State Law, Rosner offered other explanations for his 2020 survey.

The poll was done in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, and right after the third round of elections in Israel.

Rosner suggested the increase in Arab identification as Israelis could be attributed to the multiple elections, with Arab participation being publicly debated. This led to increased Arab participation which in turn impacted self-identification.

The more the Arabs participate in the political life of Israel, the more likely they are to see themselves as Israelis, as opposed to Palestinians/Arabs.

Also, the coronavirus pandemic and the shared fate together of all Israelis helped create a sense of shared identity.

That raises the obvious question, whether this is a one-time phenomenon. For the answer to that, we will have to see next year.

But there is a real possibility that this could be a sign of a serious change and alteration in the identification of Arab Israelis.

No wonder Abbas and Hamas are terrified by the prospect of any contact between Palestinian Arabs and Israel.




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