Arab citizens of Israel

Arab citizens of Israel, or Arab Israelis, are Israeli citizens whose primary language or linguistic heritage is Arabic. Many identify as Palestinian and commonly self-designate themselves as Palestinian citizens of Israel or Israeli Palestinians. The traditional vernacular of most Arab citizens, irrespective of religion, is the Palestinian dialect of Arabic. Most Arab citizens of Israel are functionally bilingual, their second language being Modern Hebrew. By religious affiliation, most are Muslim, particularly of the Sunni branch of Islam. There is a significant Arab Christian minority from various denominations as well as the Druze, among other religious communities.

According to Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics, the Arab population in 2013 was estimated at 1,658,000, representing 20.7% of the country's population. The majority of these identify themselves as Arab or Palestinian by nationality and Israeli by citizenship. Arab citizens of Israel mostly live in Arab-majority towns and cities; with eight of Israel's ten poorest cities being Arab. The vast majority attend separate schools to Jewish Israelis, and Arab political parties have never joined a government coalition. Many have family ties to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as well as to Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. Negev Bedouins and the Druze tend to identify more as Israelis than other Arab citizens of Israel.

Most of the Arabs living in East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, occupied by Israel in the Six-Day War of 1967 and later annexed, were offered Israeli citizenship, but most have refused, not wanting to recognize Israel's claim to sovereignty. They became permanent residents instead. They have the right to apply for citizenship, are entitled to municipal services and have municipal voting rights.

How to refer to the Arab citizenry of Israel is a highly politicized issue and there are a number of self-identification labels used by members of this community. Generally speaking, supporters of Israel tend to use Israeli Arab or Arab Israeli to refer to this population without mentioning Palestine, while critics of Israel (or supporters of Palestinians) tend to use Palestinian or Palestinian Arab without referencing Israel. According to The New York Times, most prefer now to identify themselves as Palestinian citizens of Israel rather than as Israeli Arabs. The New York Times uses both 'Palestinian Israelis' and 'Israeli Arabs' to refer to the same population.

Common practice in contemporary academic literature is to identify this community as Palestinian as it is how the majority self-identify (See Self-Identification below for more). Terms preferred by most Arab citizens to identify themselves include Palestinians, Palestinians in Israel, Israeli Palestinians, the Palestinians of 1948, Palestinian Arabs, Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel or Palestinian citizens of Israel. There are, however, individuals from among the Arab citizenry who reject the term Palestinian altogether. A minority of Israel's Arab citizens include "Israeli" in some way in their self-identifying label; the majority identify as Palestinian by nationality and Israeli by citizenship.

The Israeli establishment prefers Israeli Arabs or Arabs in Israel, and also uses the terms the minorities, the Arab sector, Arabs of Israel and Arab citizens of Israel. These labels have been criticized for denying this population a political or national identification, obscuring their Palestinian identity and connection to Palestine. The term Israeli Arabs in particular is viewed as a construct of the Israeli authorities. It is nonetheless used by a significant minority of the Arab population, "reflecting its dominance in Israeli social discourse."

This page was last edited on 9 June 2018, at 18:56 (UTC).
Reference: under CC BY-SA license.

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