Israel's National Road Safety Authority has concluded the ubiquitously dangerous behavior of Israeli Arabs behind the wheel stems from a sense of unfairness rather than their simply being lawless scofflaws.
Legal observers note that anti-social feelings are not an affirmative defense in any court of law and that reckless endangerment of others - which does not require conscious decision-making - remains a serious criminal act demonstrating an abberant lack of regard for human life.
Further, many question the validity of concluding 'acts of resistance' are not voluntary in cases where Arab drivers behind the wheel of heavy equipment
or large delivery vehicles
drive wildly in densely populated Jewish areas knowing, if they cause an accident, they will likely be uninjured while the Jews they hit may well be maimed or killed
. Drivers have been heard to shout "Allahu Akhbar
" as they plow into pedestrians and other vehicles.
Participants at the conference where the report was presented included the Minister of Transportation Israell Katz, CEO National Road Safety Authority Ron Moskowitz, head of the Israel Police Traffic Division Commander Bruno Stein, and the chairman of the Arab Mayors Association, Eng Ramez Grayesi.
According to the research, conducted at the Technion's Transportation Research by Dr. Roni Factor, Professor David Lal, and Professor Anat Rafaeli, a 'sense of deprivation and disenfranchisement' in the Arab sector has led to hurt feelings and 'passive-aggressive frustration' expressed by maniacal driving.
The National Road Safety Authority noted "this is the most comprehensive study conducted in Israel in recent years. Researchers studied the causes and characteristics of a large number car accidents involving non-Jews. The study was based on five main stages, which included reviewing the literature, a statistical comparison over the past 20 years, researching general qualitative depth, interviews, and a survey which was based on a representative sample of the driver population in Israel. "
The study says Israel's non-Jewish population, which is overwhelmingly Arab, does not identify with the state, a fact obvious to Jewish Israelis who observe their behavior. They feel a sense of alienation from society due, according to respondents, to perceived discrimination and their economic situation, despite their having equal civil rights in a democratic country.
Their feelings, the researcher's say, have led to anti-social feelings inspiring 'acts of resistance.' This 'resistance' leads directly and indirectly, to traffic violations and accidents. It would be interesting to see the results of a similar study of Syrian or Libyan Arabs attempting to gain basic liberties.
The authors claim 'acts of resistance' while driving are not necessarily conscious or voluntary, but rather, that Arab drivers do not consider the consequences of taking risks with a high-velocity automobile weighing several thousand pounds. Rather, they argue, the car gives the driver a sense of anonymity which encourages 'freedom of expression' and 'acts of resistance' that are perceived as an easier, less problematic way of counting coup on laws enacted by a resented majority.
The researchers emphasized any attempt to reduce road accidents would require significant attention to basic social factors, including poor traffic infrastructure in many Arab areas, which they attribute to discrimination. This has been proven to be caused by the questionable spending of public funds by local Arab leaders, who receive ample allocations to improve services.
The authors also noted, however, that the disturbing statistics held true when Arab drivers were driving in their own towns and not in Jewish areas, a seeming contradiction to their conclusions about alienation.
CEO of the National Road Safety Authority, Ron Moskowitz, said much of the responsibility fell to Arab community leaders.
"Not everything lies in financial investment," Moskowitz said. "We need courageous leadership among the Arab Mayors. They have to understand they are responsible for road safety in their towns."
"The data from the study indicates Arab mayors will have to devote more than their counterparts in areas with high Jewish populations to road safety," he added.
A special emergency meeting of Arab mayors to be held in the city of Nazareth will study driving characteristics of the Israeli Arabs and the reasons for the dangerous conduct described in the report.