Skip to main content

Reality TV Breaks Barriers Between Israeli Jews and Arabs

Television reality shows have become the only meeting point between Jewish and Arab Israelis, writes Shlomi Eldar.
Read in 

Most Jews living in Israel know nothing about their country's Arab citizens. They make up 20 percent of the population, but they are increasingly perceived by the Jewish majority as undeserving of even the most basic rights. The attitude taking root in Israel today is that Arabs are not part of the nation’s social fabric, that they should either be evicted or penned in, and that they deserve to lose their citizenship. Studies of Israeli high school students show that most of them actually believe that Arabs should not even be eligible for basic medical treatment.

This racism and hatred towards Israel's Arab citizens stems from more than just ignorance. It also arises from the anger that exists among the Jewish public toward the Arab sector’s representatives in the Knesset. Actions taken by these politicians in expressing their solidarity with the Palestinians paint an entire community as failing to identify with the state of Israel and its values. Surveys leading up to elections tend to lump the various Arab parties into a nameless bloc known generically as the "Arab parties." Even the national television rating system divides up the country into "Jewish households" and "general population."

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.