If Israel is so terrible, why do so many Arabs say they prefer to live under Israeli rule?

by James Sinkinson

(FLAME) — Despite the daily stream of lies from Israel’s critics that the Jewish state practices apartheid, genocide, illegal land grabs and the slaughter of children, most Arabs living in Israel tell researchers they prefer Israeli rule to the Palestinian alternative.

The reason isn’t hard to fathom: Israel haters are mostly leftists living in the United States and Western Europe who have zero contact with Israel and the lives of its two million Arab citizens and residents — let alone a first-hand understanding of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. In fact, their false accusations have nothing to do with reality on the ground in the Middle East and everything to do with a radical political dogma that states, “Israel is evil — because it must be evil — so our philosophy can make sense.”

In fact, indisputably, Arab Israelis enjoy full equality with Israel’s Jewish citizens, more civil liberties than their Arab brethren in any other Middle East nation and greater prosperity and economic opportunity as well. Indeed, Arab Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank know full well that Israel treats its people better than do Palestinian leaders in the West Bank and Gaza — who institutionally deprive their people of basic human rights, consign them to oppressive misery and deny them peace with their neighbors.

Recent surveys of Arab-Israelis and Palestinian residents of Israel have underscored this reality.

According to a 2021 survey undertaken by the Palestinian Shfa publication, 93 percent of Palestinian Arabs in Jerusalem — all non-Israeli citizens — prefer to remain under Israeli rule and would not give up their Israeli identity cards. Astonishingly for those witnessing the daily media and NGO barrage claiming Arab Palestinian misery under Israel’s “occupation,” only 84 respondents out of 1,200 surveyed said they would prefer to live under the Palestinian Authority. However, even of those 84, 79 said they also would not give up their Israeli identity cards.

This survey is hardly an outlier, and other Arabs feel similarly. A poll undertaken by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung at Tel Aviv University’s Dayan Center in 2017 found that 60 percent of Arabs in Israel had a favorable attitude towards the State of Israel.

“The bottom line is there is more identification with Israel than with a possible Palestinian state,” Michael Borchard, Israel director of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung said, in an interview with The Jerusalem Post. “They want to be recognized in their specific identity but have no problem to be related in a way to Israel.”

A 2019 poll by progressive researchers Dahlia Scheindlin and David Reis tells a similar story. It revealed that while 14 percent of Arab Israelis identify as “Palestinian,” 19 percent identify as “Palestinian Israeli” and 46 percent choose “Arab Israeli.” That’s 65 percent who identify as some form of Israeli. Only 22 percent identify as purely “Arab.”

In 2020, Israeli social statistician Camil Fuchs found that only 15 percent of Palestinians picked “Arab” as their identity, and only seven percent opted for “Palestinian.” On the other hand, 23 percent chose “Israeli,” and 51 percent went with “Arab Israeli.” That’s 74 percent choosing some form of Israeli identity.

Just four years ago, in 2017, some 60 percent of Arab citizens of Israel indicated they held a positive view of the Israeli state — and 63 percent of them found Israel a “positive” place to live (compared with only 34 percent who said it was not).

Another survey in 2017 found that 51 percent of Arab-Israelis described themselves as “quite proud” or “very proud” to be Israelis, and 56 percent considered Israel’s situation “good” or “very good.” Such statistics tempt American citizens to wonder whether their own country would score as high among its minority populations.

Finally, recall FLAME’s May 2020 Hotline in which we reported that a massive majority — 85 percent — of non-Jews in Israel feel comfortable being themselves in Israel. The same study found that fully 91 percent of non-Jews disagree that to be a “real Israeli,” you must be Jewish. In other words, Arab Israelis clearly do not feel poorly treated — and certainly don’t chafe under so-called “apartheid.”

The closer reasonable people look at the reality of life in Israel — as well as in Hamas-held Gaza Strip and the Fatah-ruled West Bank — the more they are forced to abandon such false slanders as “apartheid,” “genocide” and “Israeli oppression.” They are forced to acknowledge that the majority of Israel bashing by the media and the ultra-left is more imagined than real — mostly by those far outside the arena they describe with such vitriol.

Those who live in Israel or under Israeli direct control have little desire to change the situation, since the other option — living under the boots of a Palestinian dictatorship — would be no improvement for all but a tiny, fanatical and/or corrupt minority.

Those privileged American and European elites who purport to speak for the “Palestinian people” rarely understand their reality — which is a misery created more by their own leaders than those of Israel, who are primarily focused on protecting their citizens from terrorist attacks.

In short, today’s progressive circles revel in tearing down Israel and Zionism. Their circular argument is that Israel is bad — ”hateful,” “oppressive,” “apartheid,” “genocidal,” “guilty of war crimes” — mostly because they say so, even though hard reality clearly contradicts their slander. Thus, virtually all Israeli behavior is disdainfully libeled, provoking hysterical outrage. These same radical militants then pat themselves on the back for forcing Israel patiently, tediously to refute all the lies… again.

James Sinkinson is president of Facts and Logic About the Middle East (FLAME), which publishes educational messages to correct lies and misperceptions about Israel and its relationship to the United States.