To hear the international media tell it, Israel is an apartheid state that oppresses Arabs. Israel, it is implied, not only has wrong policies, but is uniquely and systematically unjust. Well, turns out that Arab Israelis don’t think so. As The Times of Israel reports (h/t to our former intern, Yair Rosenberg), according to an annual survey by a Jerusalem think tank, the Israel Democracy Institute
65% of Arabs described themselves as proud to be Israeli, and 59% said they felt a part of the state.The 2014 results for national pride and belonging within the Arab community show a marked increase from last year: IDI’s 2013 index reported only 40% of Israeli Arabs said they felt proud to be citizens, and 28% said they felt a sense of belonging.
This does not mean that Israel is without flaws—as the survey showed, both Israelis in general and Arab Israelis in particular had lots they want to change about their state. But a majority clearly do not think it is evil or illegitimate; on the contrary, pride is a pretty strong word.These results might surprise the average newspaper reader, particularly if he or she is in Europe. But put aside the old rhetorical question of whether you’d rather be an Arab in Israel or a Jew in an Arab country. Where would you rather live if you were an Arab—the only full democracy in the Middle East, or one of its neighbors?In a year when tensions have risen dramatically in Israel’s immediate area and all over the Middle East, opinions seem to be hardening. Just not the ones the media would lead you to expect.