Arab community in Israel at higher risk of poverty, early death – Middle East Monitor

Palestinian citizens of Israel suffer higher risk of poverty and early death due to discriminatory Israeli policies, such as earning a significantly lower income compared to Israeli citizens, a new report by the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics published on Monday, has found.

Titled “Gaps between Jews and Arabs”, the report analysed differences in data from 2020 and 2021 based on demographic characteristics including standards of living, employment, health, welfare services, personal security, crime and education.

The report stated that “The average net financial income per standard person, accepted as a measure of standard of living, in Jewish households was 1.9 times higher than in Arab households.”

It shows that net household income is 51 per cent higher for Israeli households than for Arab households; however, since Arab families tend to be larger, the gap in net income per capita is even wider, at 89 per cent.

The most significant gap was in the employment sector in 2021. The employment rate of Arab working men is just 50 per cent, while the employment rate among Jewish men is 64 per cent. This resulted in 76.5 per cent of Jewish households being able to maintain their expenses, compared to 53.7 per cent of Arab households.

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“In the last decade, the poverty risk rates in Israel were higher than the poverty risk rates in European Union countries, both at the general level and among population groups at risk of poverty: children aged 0-17, 65 and over, and women. Among Arabs, the risk of poverty was 2.9 times higher than the risk among Jews,” the report said.

Palestinian citizens of Israel – those who remained during the Nakba and their descendants – make up 20 per cent of the country’s population.

Nakba Day 1948 - Cartoon [Latuff/MiddleEastMonitor]

Nakba Day 1948 – Cartoon [Carlos Latuff/MiddleEastMonitor]

The report added that infant deaths are over 2.5 times higher in the Arab community, with 5.2 fatalities per 1,000 births compared to 2 in the Israeli community. Additionally, Israeli men live until the age of 81 years, more than the 76 years, on average, for Arab men.

Moreover, according to figures from the Council for Higher Education in Israel, the number of Arab students has more than doubled in the past decade, but the gap in the number of graduates is still enormous. More than one third of Israeli Jews hold an academic degree, but only 16 per cent of Arabs.

Sharaf Hassan, Chairman of the Follow Up Commission on Arab Education, told the Ynet news site: “This is grave data that shows the real suffering and life difficulties of the majority of the Arab population.”

“It also shows that Israeli governments have not made a significant effort to change the reality,” he said. “We need to change the policy from the ground up and build holistic programs based on a correct policy concept centred on recognising the rights of the Arab population and responding to the needs of Arab society in order to close the gaps.”

Palestinian citizens of Israel face systematic discrimination and complain of being treated as second-class citizens in comparison to their Jewish counterparts. Numerous human rights groups decry Israeli policies against Arabs as a form of modern-day apartheid, with Arabs suffering racial discrimination in education, work and health care.

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