Tribune. The murderous new round between Hamas and the Israeli army, the fourth since Israel’s disengagement from the Gaza Strip in 2005, ended unsurprisingly with a withdrawal into oneself, with no prospect of peace. The routine in short. Until the next round.
Less deadly but more worrying are the riots provoked by young Israeli Arabs in mixed towns such as Jaffa, Lod, Ramle, Acre, where until now they have lived peacefully with their Jewish neighbors. Is this explosion of fury linked to recent events in Jerusalem (attempted expropriation of Palestinians from Sheikh Jarrah, a neighborhood in East Jerusalem, police repression on the Mosque esplanade, provocative parade of the flags of young religious Zionists) or to a deeper identity malaise? The two factors worked simultaneously.
During the decades 1970-1990, the Arabs (or Palestinians) of Israel, who lived under harsh military administration until 1966, experienced a marked improvement in their condition. Their political rights have expanded. The level of education, in constant progress, made it possible to bring out an elite, in politics, in business circles, in the medical professions, in the media, among intellectuals. The number of Arab students in Israeli universities increased by 78.5% between 2010 and 2017. Arab deputies have joined the parliamentary game, making themselves more demanding.
This gradual process of integration has not, however, eliminated the most glaring discrimination. Land belonging to the Jewish National Fund cannot be leased to non-Jews. Public aid allocated to Arab localities is lower than that of Jewish localities. Insecurity is endemic there. The unemployment rate among Arabs is higher, reaching 30% among 18-24 year olds. The wage differentials remain significant. Arabs in Israel are under-represented in the civil service and important positions in the state are virtually inaccessible to them.
Relations between Jews and Arabs declined at the start of the Second Intifada. Violent protests in support of the Palestinians in October 2000 were brutally repressed, resulting in the deaths of thirteen demonstrators. An event that left its mark. However, the majority of Arabs want to integrate. It is divided between loyalty to the Jewish state and adherence to the Palestinian cause, between “Israelization” and “Palestinianization”. She calls for the creation of a Palestinian state while wishing to continue living in that of Israel. It aspires to better integration and a clear differentiation allowing it to preserve its Palestinian identity.
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