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Report: Israeli Arabs' Involvement in Terror On the Decline

University of Haifa professor claims Israeli Arabs' involvement in terror has declined.
By Tova Dvorin
First Publish: 1/5/2014, 2:41 PM

Israeli Arabs protest in Haifa (archive)
Israeli Arabs protest in Haifa (archive)
Flash 90

While terror attacks in general are on the rise, Israeli-Arab involvement in terrorism is not, according to Maariv Sunday. 

Professor Sami Smooha, Professor of Sociology at University of Haifa, found in a study published in 2012 that Israeli Arabs are relating more and more to their Palestinian counterparts, in a decade-long quest to measure sociological changes in those communities. The number of Israeli Arabs who trust the State of Israel is on the decline, according to Smooha - and the number of Israeli Arabs seeking a Palestinian State instead of a "Zionist entity" is rising. 

At the same time, incitement tactics by the Palestinian Authority (PA) seem to be working: more and more Israeli Arabs have been supportive of the wider Arab community in Israel fighting for their rights "by any means necessary" - including violence. 

However, Smooha also found that, puzzlingly, the involvement of Israeli Arabs in terror is also on the decline.

"In terms of prevailing winds during the last ten years, from the mid-2000s, there is a worsening attitude and less legitimacy to Israel and Israeli democracy, which was supposed to lead to the reverse situation," he says. Smooha's hypothesis is that despite these attitudes, Israeli Arabs have seen time and time again that terror attacks have not brought any significant change to their social status. 

Mohammad Zeidan, a former chairman of the Monitoring Committee of Arabs in Israel, says that everything depends on government policy towards the Israeli Arabs. Zeidan claims that the embrace of Israeli Arabs in wider society could resolve some feelings of frustration.

"[Israeli Arabs'] involvement in terrorism is close to zero," Zeidan claims. "The fact that there is less terrorism signifies that Palestinians Arab and Israeli Arabs want to give peace a chance."

"Israeli Arabs involved in terror have always been presumed to be a rare occurrence, because it's not something that population has reached a consensus [about]," says MK Israel Hasson (Yisrael Beytenu), a former deputy head of the Israel Security Agency (ISA), or Shin Bet. "Palestinians will not accept them and do not want their involvement. They have Palestinian sympathies at times, but overall they live here in Israel."

Hasson also maintained that the attitude toward Israeli Arabs is drastically different in Arab society. Unlike Palestinian Arabs, Hasson claims, Israeli Arab terrorists are not lauded as "national heroes" - probably because that community chooses to live in the Jewish State, even if that choice can be a source of conflict. 

Smooha's study explained that the source of the conflict is a clash between cultural and national identities - and that the relationship can sometimes be extremely complex. Smooha elaborated that the PA and Hamas do not view Israeli Arabs as partners against the 'occupation,' and can even see them as harmful factors in the State of Israel.

Paradoxically, however, Israeli Arabs are more likely to side with the Sunni-backed PLO and Hamas rather than outside organizations like Hezbollah, according to Zeidan - leading to the phenomenon of aspiring to side with organizations who refuse to accept them. 

The study comes on the heels of ongoing reports that PA officials are demanding the release of Israeli-Arab terrorists as a "gesture" in peace talks. On Sunday, Channel 2 reported that PA Prisoner Minister Issa Karaka insisted to the press that Israel knew of the arrangement "before talks even began," and that the PA would renege on its agreements to stay away from international lawsuits if that aspect of the deal fell through.