Even though the Arab population of Israel are considered citizens as any other, there still exists a constant tension between the Arab and Jewish communities. This tension remains for a few reasons: Many Arabs consider themselves as Palestinians and identify with the Palestinian struggle while opposing the Jewish sovereignty of the country. There also remains equality in some public areas, and the criticism towards Israel creates community conflict that endures. Having said that, all Arab citizens of Israel are free to express their opinions in the Israeli democracy as well as enjoy all the public service. To reduce community tensions various institutes were established throughout the years to foster patience and understanding to both sides. Shared activities such as sports, cultural activities and student gatherings are continually held in order to facilitate dialogue between both communities.
The term Arabs of Israel refers to Arab citizens living in Israel. Arabs are the largest minority in Israel, with a population of 1.7 million that comprises 20.7% of the country’s total population. The mother tongue of Arabs in Israel is Arabic, which is also one of the official languages in Israel by law. The Arab population consists of various ethnic groups from different religions. 70% of Arabs in Israel are Muslim, 9% are Christians, 8.5% are Druze, and Bedouin. The vast majority of Arab citizens in Israel live in the north of the country in an area located between the Sharon, Shomron and in the Negev. The highest populated Arab areas are Nazareth, Um El Fahem, Taibe and Shfaram.
Like all citizens in Israel, Arabs have their duties and privileges in education, medicine, culture, welfare and so on. Many Arabs study in Israeli education institutions and later work as doctors, lawyers, judges and in government and private sectors. Arabs are entitled to vote and many have been elected to the Israeli Knesset. In the recent 2015 elections the Arab unions joined forces as the “joined party” and together they won 13 seats making them the third largest party in the Israeli Knesset. Arabs of Israel also have cultural representations and some are famous all over Israel, recognized by all. Sayed Kashua is such an example, as a well appreciated “Aretz” newspaper writer. In 2007 a show started on Israeli television called “Arab work” which portrayed the life of Arabs in Israel in a humorous light. The show has become popular with TV viewers.