Nazareth Baptist School
Arabs in israel

Arab Citizens of Israel
(Based upon the definition of “Arabs in Israel “in Wikipedia)

It is a phrase used to refer to Israeli citizens who are not Jewish and whose ethnic, cultural or linguistic heritage is Arab. By religious affiliation, most Arab citizens of Israel are Muslim, particularly of the Sunni branch of Islam, and there is a significant Arab Christian minority from various denominations, as well as Arab Druze, among other religious communities.
The traditional and current vernacular of Arab citizens, irrespective of religion, is the Arabic language, or more precisely, the Palestinian dialect of Arabic. Many Arab citizens of Israel are functionally bilingual, their second language being Modern Hebrew.

As of 2008, Arab citizens of Israel comprise just over 20% of the country's total population. The majority of these identify themselves as Palestinian by nationality and Israeli by citizenship. Many have family ties to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as to Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. Israeli Bedouin Arabs tend to identify more as Israelis than other Arab citizens of Israel. The Druze are drafted into the Israel Defense Forces.

Special cases include Arabs living in East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, occupied and administered by Israel since the Six-Day War of 1967. The residents of East Jerusalem became permanent residents of Israel shortly after the war. Only a few of them accepted Israeli citizenship, and most of them keep close ties with the West Bank, though they are allowed to vote for municipal services. The mostly Druze residents of the Golan Heights are considered permanent residents under the Golan Heights Law of 1981. Few of them have accepted full Israeli citizenship, and the vast majority consider themselves to be citizens of Syria.


1948 Arab-Israeli War
Most Israelis refer to the 1948 Arab–Israeli War as the War of Independence, while most Arab citizens refer to it as the Nakba (catastrophe), a reflection of differences in perception of the purpose and outcomes of the war.

In the aftermath of the 1948 war, the British Mandate of Palestine was de facto and divided into three parts: the State of Israel, the Jordanian-held West Bank, and the Egyptian-held Gaza Strip. Of the estimated 950,000 Arabs that lived in the territory that became Israel before the war, [12] over 80% left. While it is disputed how many fled or were expelled, some 156,000 remained. Benny Morris says, "Most of Palestine's 700,000 'refugees' fled their homes because of the flail of war (and in the expectation that they would shortly return to their homes on the backs of victorious Arab invaders). But it is also true that there were several dozen sites, including Lydda and Ramla, from which Arab communities were expelled by Jewish troops." [19]

Arab citizens of Israel are largely composed of these people and their descendants. Others include some from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank who procured Israeli citizenship under family-unification provisions that were recently made significantly more stringent. Arabs who left their homes during the period of armed conflict, but remained in what had become Israeli territory, were considered to be "present absentees". In some cases, they were refused permission to return to their homes, which were expropriated and turned over to state ownership, as was the property of other Palestinian refugees. Some 274,000, or 1 of every 4 Arab citizens of Israel are "present absentees" or internally displaced Palestinians. Notable cases of "present absentees" include the residents of Saffuriyya and the Galilee villages of Kafr Bir'im and Iqrit. [25]

In Israel, Independence Day takes place on 5 Iyar, according to the Hebrew calendar, which means it falls on different dates every year under the Gregorian calendar. Arab citizens of Israel generally mark al-Nakba both on this day, and on May 15, as do other Palestinians.


While most Arabs remaining in Israel were granted citizenship, they were subject to martial law in the early years of the state. Travel permits, curfews, administrative detentions, and expulsions were part of life until 1966. A variety of legal measures facilitated the transfer of land abandoned by Arabs to state ownership. These included the Absentee Property Law of 1950 which allowed the state to take control of land belonging to land owners who emigrated to other countries, and the Land Acquisition Law of 1953 which authorized the Ministry of Finance to transfer expropriated land to the state. Other common legal expedients included the use of emergency regulations to declare land belonging to Arab citizens a closed military zone, followed by the use of Ottoman legislation on abandoned land to take control of the land.

In 1965, the first attempt was made to stand an independent Arab list for Knesset elections, with the radical group al-Ard forming the Arab Socialist List. The list was banned by the Israeli Central Elections Committee. In 1966, martial law was lifted completely, and the government set about dismantling most of the discriminatory laws, while Arab citizens were, theoretically if not always in practice, granted the same rights as Jewish citizens.


The Six Day War marked a dramatic turning point in the lives of Israel's Arab citizens. For the first time since Israel's establishment, Arab citizens had contact with Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. This, along with the lifting of military rule, led to increased political activism among Arab citizens.

In 1974, a committee of Arab mayors and municipal councilmen was established which played an important role in representing the community and pressuring the Israeli government. This was followed in 1975 by the formation of the Committee for the Defense of the Land, which sought to prevent continuing land expropriations. That same year, a political breakthrough took place with the election of Arab poet Tawfiq Ziad, a Maki (communist party) member, as mayor of Nazareth, accompanied by a strong communist presence in the town council. In 1976, six Arab citizens of Israel were killed by Israeli security forces at a protest against land expropriations and house demolitions. The date of the protest, March 30, has since been commemorated annually as Land Day.

The 1980's saw the birth of the Islamic Movement. As part of a larger trend in the Arab World, the Islamic Movement emphasized moving Islam into the political realm. The Islamic movement built schools, provided other essential social services, constructed mosques, and encouraged prayer and conservative Islamic dress. The Islamic Movement began to have an impact on electoral politics, particularly at the local level.

Many Arab citizens supported the First Intifada and assisted Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, providing them with money, food, and clothes. A number of strikes were also held by Arab citizens in solidarity with Palestinians in the occupied territories.

The years leading up to the Oslo Accords were a time of optimism for Arab citizens. During the administration of Yitzhak Rabin, Arab parties played an important role in the formation of a governing coalition. Increased participation of Arab citizens was also seen at the civil society level. However, tension continued to exist with many Arabs calling for Israel to become a "state of all its citizens", thereby challenging the state's Jewish identity. During the 1999 elections for Prime Minister, 94% of the Arab electorate voted for Ehud Barak. However, Barak formed a broad left-right-center government without consulting the Arab parties, disappointing the Arab community.


Tensions between Arabs and the state rose in October 2000 when 12 Arab citizens of Israel and one man from Gaza were killed while protesting the government's response to the Second Intifada. In response to this incident, the government established the Or Commission. The events of October 2000 caused many Israeli Arabs to question the nature of their citizenship. To a large extent, they boycotted the 2001 Israeli Elections as a means of protest. [34] Israeli Arabs' boycott of 2001 elections paradoxically helped Ariel Sharon defeat Ehud Barak. In the 1999 elections, more than 90 percent of the Israeli Arab minority had voted for Ehud Barak.

During the 2006 Lebanon War, Arab advocacy organizations complained that the Israeli government had invested time and effort to protect Jewish citizens from Hezbollah attacks, but had neglected Arab citizens. They pointed to a dearth of bomb shelters in Arab towns and villages and a lack of basic emergency information in Arabic. Many Israeli Jews viewed the Arab opposition to government policy and sympathy with the Lebanese as a sign of disloyalty.[43]

In October 2006, tensions rose when Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert invited the right-wing political party Yisrael Beiteinu, to join his coalition government. The party leader, Avigdor Lieberman, advocated the transfer of heavily populated Arab areas (such as Umm al-Fahm) to the Palestinian Authority as part of a peace proposal.

Ethnic and Religious Groupings
In 2006, the official number of Arab residents in Israel - including East Jerusalem permanent residents, many of whom are not citizens - was 1,413,500 people, or about 20% of Israel’s total population. According to the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics (May 2003), Muslims, including Bedouins, make up 82% of the entire Arab population in Israel, with around 9% Druze, and 9% Christians.

The national language and mother tongue of Arab citizens, including the Druze, is Arabic and the colloquial spoken language is of the Palestinian Arabic dialect. Knowledge and command of Modern Standard Arabic varies.

Outside of the Bedouin population, traditionally settled communities of Muslim Arabs comprise about 70% of the Arab population in Israel.

Muslims in Israel have the highest birthrate of any group: 4.0 children per woman, as opposed to 2.7 for Jewish Israelis, a natural reproduction rate of 3% compared to 1.5%. Around 25% of the children in Israel today were born to Muslim parents. The Muslim population is mostly young: 42% of Muslims are children under the age of 15, compared with 26% of the Jewish population. The median age of Muslim Israelis is 18, while the median age of Jewish Israelis is 30. The percentage of people over 65 is less than 3% for Muslims, compared with 12% for the Jewish population. According to forecasts, the Muslim population will grow to over 2,000,000 people, or 24-26% of the population within the next 15 years. They will also comprise 85% of the Arab population in Israeli in 2020 (up 3% from 2005).

According to the Foreign Affairs Minister of Israel, 110,000 Bedouins live in the Negev, 50,000 in the Galilee, and 10,000 in the central region of Israel.

The term "Bedouin" ("Badawi" in Arabic) defines a range of nomadic desert-dwelling ethnic groups spanning from the western Sahara desert to the Nejd desert, including one of its arms - the Negev ("Naqab" in Arabic). Through the latter half of the 19th century, the traditionally pastoral nomadic Bedouin in Palestine began transitioning to a semi-nomadic pastoral agricultural community, with an emphasis on agricultural production and the privatization of tribal lands.

The Israeli government encourages Bedouins to settle as permanent residents in these development towns, but the other half of the Negev Bedouin population continues to live in 45 "unrecognized villages," some of which predate the existence of Israel. These villages do not appear on any commercial maps, and are denied basic services like water, electricity, and schools. It is forbidden by the Israeli authorities for the residents of these villages to build permanent structures, though many do, risking fines and home demolition.

The Druze are members of a sect residing in many countries, although predominantly in mountainous regions in Israel, Lebanon, and Syria. Druze in Israel live mainly in the north, notably in Carmel City, near Haifa. There are also Druze localities in the Golan Heights, such as Majdal Shams, which were captured in 1967 from Syria and annexed to Israel in 1981.
It is in keeping with Druze religious practice to always serve the country in which they live. [55] So while the Druze population in Israel are Arabic speakers like their counterparts in Syria and Lebanon, they often consider themselves Israeli, and unlike the Arab Muslims and Arab Christians in Israel, they rarely identify themselves as Palestinians. [56] As early as 1939, the leadership of one Druze village formally allied itself with pre-Israeli militias, like the Haganah. A separate "Israeli Druze" identity was encouraged by the Israeli government who formally recognized the Druze religious community as independent of the Muslim religious community in Israeli law as early as 1957.

Christian Arabs comprise about 9% of the Arab population in Israel, and approximately 70% reside in the Northern District (Israel) in the towns of Jish, Eilabun, Kafr Yasif, Kafr Kanna, I'billin, and Shefa-'Amr, while many reside in Nazareth. Several other villages, including a number of Druze villages, such as Hurfeish and Maghar, are inhabited by Christian Arabs. Nazareth has the largest Christian Arab population. There are 117,000 or more Christian Arabs in Israel. Christian Arabs have been prominent in Arab political parties in Israel and these leaders have included Archbishop George Hakim, Emile Toma, Tawfik Toubi, Emile Habibi, and Azmi Bishara.

The only non-Jewish Arab judge to receive a permanent appointment to preside over Israel's Supreme Court is a Christian Arab, Salim Joubran.

Arab citizens of Israel form a majority of the population (52%) in Israel's Northern District and about 50% of the Arab population lives in 114 different localities throughout Israel. In total there are 122 primarily, if not entirely, Arab localities in Israel - 89 of them having populations over two thousand. The seven townships, as well as the Abu Basma Regional Council that has been constructed by the government for the Bedouin population of the Negev, are the only Arab localities to have been established since 1948, with the aim of relocating the Arab Bedouin citizens (see above section on Bedouin).  Forty-six percent (46% ) of the country’s Arabs (622,400 people) live in predominantly-Arab communities in the north. [1] Nazareth is the largest Arab city, with a population of 70,000, roughly 43,000 of whom are Muslim. Shefa-'Amr has a population of approximately 32,000, and the city is mixed with sizable populations of Muslims, Christians, and Druze.

Jerusalem, a mixed city, has the largest overall Arab population. Jerusalem housed 209,000 Arabs in 2000, and they make up some 33% of the city’s residents, and together with the local council of Abu Ghosh, some 19% of the country’s entire Arab population.

14% of Arab citizens live in the Haifa District, predominantly in the Wadi Ara region. Here is the largest Muslim city, Umm al-Fahm, with a population of 43,000. Baqa-Jatt and Carmel City are the two second largest Arab population centers in the district. The city of Haifa has an Arab population of 9%, much of it in the Wadi Nisnas neighborhood.

10% of the country's Arab population resides in the Center District of Israel, primarily the cities of Tayibe, Tira, and Qalansawe as well as the mixed cities of Lod and Ramla which have mainly Jewish populations. [48]

Of the remaining 11%, 10% live in Bedouin communities in the northwestern Negev. The Bedouin city of Rahat is the only Arab city in the South District and it is the third largest Arab city in Israel. The remaining 1% of the country's Arab population lives in cities that are almost entirely Jewish, such as Nazareth Illit with an Arab population of 9% and Tel Aviv-Yafo, with 4%.

The Israeli government regulates and finances most of the schools operating in the country, including the majority of those run by private organizations. The national school system has two major branches - a Hebrew-speaking branch and an Arabic-speaking branch. The curricula for the two systems are almost identical in mathematics, sciences, and English. It is different in humanities (history, literature, etc.). While Hebrew is taught as a second language in Arab schools since the third grade and obligatory for Arabic-speaking school's matriculation exams, only basic knowledge of Arabic is taught in Hebrew-speaking schools, usually from the 7th to the 9th grade. Arabic is not obligatory for Hebrew speaking school's matriculation exams. The schooling language split operates from preschool, up to the end of high school. At the university level, they merge into a single system, which operates mostly in Hebrew and in English.

The Follow-Up Committee for Arab Education notes that the Israeli government spends an average of $192 per year on each Arab student compared to $1,100 per Jewish student. The drop-out rate for Arab citizens of Israel is twice as high as that of their Jewish counterparts (12 percent versus 6 percent). The same group also notes that there is a 5,000-classroom shortage in the Arab sector.

According to the 2004 U.S. State Department Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for Israel and the occupied territories, "Israeli Arabs were under-represented in the student bodies and faculties of most universities and in higher professional and business ranks. The Bureau of Statistics noted that the median number of school years for the Jewish population is 3 years more than for the Arab population. Well educated Arabs often were unable to find jobs commensurate with their level of education. According to Sikkuy, Arab citizens held approximately 60 to 70 of the country's 5,000 university faculty positions.”

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