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Sunday, April 30, 2017

Netanyahu and the Israeli Arabs: The Untold Story


If there is one thing liberal pundits in Israel and America seem to agree on, it's that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu doesn't like Israeli Arabs and wishes them harm. The outcry over his remarks—ill-judged at the very least and inflammatory at worst—regarding Arab voters being brought in buses to vote against him helped cement this suspicion. But a close look at Netanyahu's actual record on Israeli Arabs, as opposed to this or that public remark, reveals a very different story.

For a start, affirmative action policies initiated under Ehud Olmert were accelerated during the Netanyahu administration. These prioritized economic development, including allocating funds for joint industrial parks in Arab and Jewish towns. Subsidies helped firms hire Arab labor and expanded transportation infrastructure, which allowed Arabs to reach employment sites. These ventures were so successful that the government began setting up industrial parks and employment offices exclusively in Arab towns. In addition, the Israeli government developed a five-year plan for improving Arab education and established a special unit in the prime minister’s office to promote economic development in the Arab community.

Despite the opposition of Palestinian nationalists, more and more Arab communities began to cooperate with government agencies, particularly those that were aligned with Hadash. At the same time, educational and occupational initiatives began to improve the possibilities for Arab women and their labor participation rates increased substantially: for women 30 to 39 years old, it increased from 24 percent in 2005 to 34 percent in 2010...

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