About Us

Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine
UK architects, planners and other construction industry professionals campaigning for a just peace in Israel/Palestine.


Arabs live better in Israel than anywhere else, except not really


25 MAY 2011

I just watched Max Blumenthal's excellent set of recorded interviews
<> and
comments from participants at AIPAC 2011. As a Jew—nay, as a human being—it is heart-wrenching to watch 
other ostensibly sentient creatures diminish their critical faculties in such obvious, degrading ways in order to advance  a 21st century colonial project. "You constantly reject peace," in one breath. "We won the war.You lost. It's our land," in the next.

Apart from the recurring, blatant denial of Israel's military occupation, one of the most repeated assertions 
in the segment is that Palestinian citizens of Israel live better than Arabs in neighboring countries. Zionists love to talk about this, <\ywhere-else/> (while purposely ignoring the rampant, often ethnically based 

inequalities that undermine those arguments). For example, there is the
animated but inarticulate young man who says "I'm an Israeli Jew and I have
Israeli Arab friends, in Israel, and they are perfectly comfortable… In
Israel. I have them as Facebook friends." Wait, you mean Israeli
Palestinians are allowed to use Facebook?

If I were trying to design Zionist talking points (which mercifully I'm
not!), I would certainly not go down this route. The relevant comparison
group for any sub-population of citizens is not ethnically similar people in
other countries. One does not decide that Jim Crow segregation in the US was
an ethically appealing system of discrimination by comparing socio-economic
outcomes of African-Americans to Nigerians or Liberians. If Jews lived in
ghettos in two different countries, but one country's ghettos were more
sanitary and supported a higher standard of living than in another country,
conditions in the latter do not justify conditions in the former. The
appropriate comparison group must be the other citizens of that country.
Palestinian Arabs should not be compared with Arabs in other countries; they
should be compared to the dominant ethnic group in the country that
demonstrates what privilege and resources can do for that specific
population. This is not a difficult thing to grasp.

Are Palestinian citizens of Israel better off than Arabs in neighboring

But putting this aside for a moment, is it even true that Palestinian Arabs
are better off than other Arabs? In some ways, yes. In many ways, no. It is
true, for example, that there is more protection for speech and media than
in many highly repressive Arab countries. But Palestinians are massively
underrepresented in political institutions relative to other Arab countries
with parliaments or democratic local governments (Arab parties hold at
present only 14 out of 120 seats in the Knesset despite comprising over 20%
of the population). They hold fewer civil service jobs (only 6.1% of such
jobs despite court rulings that this number must be increased). This
discrimination extends to the private sector as well. Fewer Arab women in
Israel work, due to discrimination, than even women in Saudi Arabia
ave-jobs-in-israel-than-in-saudi-arabia-1.3606> , that bastion of medievally
strict gender segregation, and Oman. The labor force participate rate of
Arab women in Israel is less than half what it is in Morocco or Mauritania.

Arab towns in Israel have worse public services than many other Arab
counties. Only in 2010 did they get access to a public bus system for the
first time, a change that Israel's Transportation Ministry announced with
great fanfare <> . And
that is to say nothing of the so-called unrecognized Bedouin communities
<> ,
where more than 80,000 Arab citizens of Israel receive absolutely no public
services (no education, no health no water supply, no sanitation, no
electricity, no trash service). One would have to search carefully for the
most deprived groups in other Arab countries in order to find destitution
and state-sanctioned public neglect on such an intense scale.

Comparing Palestinian Israelis to Jewish Israelis Of course, all the
outcomes just described coexist with extraordinary privilege and wealth in
Israel, which is an OECD country. How do outcomes for the Palestinian
subgroup compare to outcomes for Jews? I highlight just a few:

* Palestinian Israelis are live on just 7% of the land with high
population densities due to de jure discrimination among land
authorities in Israel
> .

* 55% of families below the poverty line
nted=2> in Israel are Palestinian Arab.

* Average Arab salaries are 30% lower than Jewish ones, according to the
Central Bank of Israel.

* Average per-student allocation at Arab schools is 1/5 the Jewish average,
according to Israel's Follow-Up Committee for Arab Education.

* Despite poor health outcomes, Israel's health ministry allocated Arab
communities in 2002 less than 0.6% of its 277 million shekel) budget

<> to develop
healthcare facilities in Arab localities.

* Of the 55,000 people working in government companies, one percent are

* From 1952 to 1972, proportion of total government budget allocated to Arab
sector ranged from 0.2 to 1.5%. Rose to 4% in 2008.

* Since 1948, approximately 600 new Jewish municipalities, but not one Arab
one has ever been built.

These figures show that relative outcomes for Palestinian citizens of
Israel, when compared both to other Arabs countries and to the appropriate
comparison group, is one of systematic, institutionalized relative
deprivation. As the US State Dept wrote in it's recent report on human
rights in Israel: "Principal human rights problems were institutional,
legal, and societal discrimination against Arab citizens, [and] Palestinian
residents of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip."

No wonder Israel's defenders try to distract attention away from
their own state's appalling conduct.

Balad June 3, 2011 at 4:29am

While Palestinians are prevented by law from living in the so-called "lands of Israel", which represent 93% of Israel, this does not imply that they can live on the remaining 7%. Approximately 3% are private jewish lands bought before 1948, where de facto the same exclusion rules apply. Palestinian lands are now a mere 4%.