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COVID, violence main concerns of Arab-Israeli residents of mixed cities

CM 19/08/2021

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Coronavirus and violence were the main concerns of Arab residents of mixed Arab-Jewish cities in 2020, even more than issues concerning their civil status, according to the Personal Security Survey of Arab Society in Mixed Cities report by the Abraham Initiatives organization.
This is the first time the organization has issued a report on this specific population.
Some 88% of Arab residents of mixed cities were concerned with the spread of the coronavirus, compared to 70% of the general Arab population in Israel. Some 83% of them are concerned or very concerned about violence and crime. Unemployment also was a main concern of mixed-city Arab residents, with about 61% expressing concerns on the issue.

In comparison, just 42% of Arab residents of mixed cities were concerned with the status of democracy in Israel and just 26% were concerned with the stagnation of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
Concerning violence, were most concerned (84%) with gunfire and the use of weapons, followed closely by property crime (81%) and violence against women (80%). Protection rackets were less of a concern for Arab residents of mixed cities (63.6%).
In general, more Arab residents of mixed cities expressed concerns on all issues of crime and violence, than other Israeli Arabs.
Almost all Arab residents of mixed cities (98%) stated that they saw an increase in the use of firearms where they live in recent years, compared to 55% of Jewish residents of these cities. About 95% of Arab residents of these cities stated that firearms can be acquired in Israel with ease, compared to 52.5% of Jewish residents.
Jewish residents of mixed cities expressed agreement with these statements at a significantly higher rate than Jewish residents outside of these cities.
ARAB RESIDENTS of mixed cities are more concerned than Arab residents of other cities about being affected by crime and violence, and significantly more concerned than Jewish residents, according to the report.
Concerning where they feel unsafe, mixed-city Arabs stated that they felt most unsafe in their towns of residence and on the street, with more feeling unsafe in these places than Arab residents of other towns. They did, however, feel safer in places of entertainment and schools than Arab residents of other cities.
The report found, however, that Arabs in mixed cities are less willing to take part in the fight against violence in their cities compared to Arab residents throughout Israel (about 60% compared to 75%), despite being more concerned with violence.
In mixed cities, most Arab residents (65%) said they were satisfied with how families fight violence, with 50.5% expressing satisfaction with media fighting violence and 43% expressing satisfaction with the education system’s fight against violence.
Between a quarter and a third of Arab residents in mixed cities expressed satisfaction with local authorities, the welfare system and religious institutions, expressing much higher satisfaction with Arab leadership than residents of other cities (25% compared to 17%). Those in mixed cities, however, expressed lower satisfaction with religious institutions than Arab residents of other cities (33% to 41%).
RESIDENTS OF mixed cities also expressed low satisfaction with government bodies, including the Knesset, the cabinet, Israel Police and the justice system (between 5% and 12.5%).
All residents of Israel expressed low levels of trust in Israel Police in 2020, especially Arab residents in mixed cities, of whom just 9% expressed trust in the police, according to the report. Among the general Arab population, 16% expressed trust in the police.
The Jewish population in mixed cities also expressed low levels of trust in the police, with just 17.5% expressing trust compared to 20% of the general Jewish population of Israel.
Despite the low levels of trust, 64% of Arab residents of mixed cities stated that Police handling of issues is good or very good, higher than the general Arab population and even higher than the Jewish population.
Concerning treatment of the coronavirus crisis, 63.5% of Arab residents of mixed cities expressed satisfaction with how families handled the crisis, 62% expressed satisfaction with how the media handled it and 54% expressed satisfaction with the Health Ministry. Between 40% and 50% expressed satisfaction with the crisis’s handling by the welfare and education systems and religious institutions.
Less than 20% of Arab residents of mixed cities expressed satisfaction with the handling of the coronavirus crisis by the cabinet, the Knesset, justice system and police.
In 2020, some 21 Arab residents of mixed cities were killed in acts of violence, two of whom were women.
THE ABRAHAM Initiatives report stressed that national and local leaders must act to address violence and crime in mixed cities, while understanding that personal security is a civic issue and should not be turned into a national-religious issue. The organization added that the leaders of these cities must make the issue of personal security common to both Jews and Arabs.
The organization also stressed that government economic plans for Arab society must also take into account Arab residents of mixed cities, not just Arab cities and towns. “Understanding that the Arab citizens living in these cities suffer from the same distresses common to all of Arab society requires a solution to these distresses, without ‘skipping’ the population living in the mixed cities,” said the report.
The Abraham Initiatives also recommended launching a number of programs for employment and informal education to reduce the number of youth who are unoccupied, as well as programs to prevent unoccupied youth from ending up in crime.
The organization also stressed that a solution must be found for the housing crisis of Arab residents of mixed cities, such as regulation for the ownership of Arab tenants in public housing and additional housing solutions.
Concerning the police and judicial system, the Abraham Initiatives recommends intensifying efforts to capture firearms and providing a budget for technological means such as cameras in mixed cities. The organization also recommended making welfare services and centers for the prevention of domestic violence more accessible. The report stressed that police must find a way to protect witnesses to allow for better police work without endangering the witnesses.
“The survey paints a grim picture regarding the effects of violence and crime and their impact on the lives of the Arab residents of the mixed cities,” read the introduction to the report. “Moreover, the survey findings show that these phenomena do not only affect the Arab residents, but also flow to the Jewish society that lives in the mixed cities and which experiences a threat of violence more than other Jewish citizens.
“The Avraham Initiatives association attaches great importance to the fight against crime and violence in Arab society and therefore established the ‘Safe Communities’ initiative, which promotes a service concept of policing that benefits Arab citizens, to establish communication mechanisms between the police and the community, implement anti-violence education programs in schools and establish life-saving services in Arab towns,” added the introduction.
“However, we believe that attention should be paid to the personal security of the Arab society living in the mixed cities, which has unique characteristics.”

Source: Jerusalem Post

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