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Study: Arab Towns Bad for Arabs

Research: all-Arab towns increase isolation, passivity.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 10/18/2013, 2:18 PM

Arab city (illustrative)
Arab city (illustrative)
Israel news photo: Flash 90

The concentration of Israel’s Arab population in Arab towns and cities is bad for Arabs, and creates mistrust and passivity, Maariv/nrg reports.The report was based on new research from Ariel University.

Researcher Dr. Yael Brender-Ilan sought to resolve a dispute between two views on ethnically homogeneous towns.

One view suggests that such towns are more likely to succeed. Residents largely have similar aims, and are more able to work in harmony, proponents say.

The other view suggests the opposite: that minorities living apart are likely to feel they are the victims of discrimination, which leads to mistrust in authority and a tendency to behave in ways which do not lead to economic productivity or to successful group action, regardless of shared goals.

Dr. Brender-Ilan took a look at Arab cities in Israel. Non-Jewish Arabs make up approximately 20 percent of Israel's population, and over 70% of Arabs live in majority-Arab communities.

If the first view of homogeneous communities is correct, she predicted, Arabs living in majority-Arab towns should show more trust in local leaders, and a higher willingness to pay city taxes, than Arabs living in mixed Jewish-Arab cities.

However, she found the opposite to be the case. Arabs living in majority-Arab communities were significantly less likely to pay city tax than Jews in Jewish communities or Jews or Arabs in mixed communities, supporting the view that minority separation leads to alienation from authority.

Levels of tax payment were so low that lack of payment often had a significant impact on majority-Arab cities’ ability to function, she said.

Israeli Arabs living in majority-Arab communities clearly do not see local government as a reliable tool for collective action, she concluded. The findings call for government action, she said, either in the form of an organized effort to improve Arab trust in local government, or in the form of creating alternative ways to meet the Arab community’s needs.