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Civic Service for Arabs in Israel: 2009 Research Findings

By Prof. Sammy Smooha and Dr. Zohar Lechtman

The goals of this project are the analysis of public opinion survey data collected as part of the Civic Service for Arabs study, the dissemination of information based on these results, and the publication of a Hebrew research report.

The study on which the 2009 are based, is a multi-year project with several aims at hand: examining the degree of exposure of the Arab sector to civic service, public opinion toward civic service in 2009 and changes in public opinion since 2007 when another public opinion survey was carried out, views and experiences of volunteers of civic service and its veterans in the Arab sector, comparison of volunteers’ views to their non-volunteer counterparts, and exploring the gendered aspects of civic service, which most of its Arab volunteers are girls. In addition, the study examines the attitudes towards civic service as part of a larger orientation to the state and its Jewish majority, and in light of the opportunities available for young Arab men and women in Israel.

The product of this effort is a detailed examination of the way civic service is viewed in the Arab community in Israel and experienced by its Arab volunteers. The study, analysis and the report put the findings in the larger social and political context of Arab-Jewish relations and in particular, the situation of Arab youth and especially Arab young women as a minority in Israel. The report provides detailed information on all aspects of civic service, from the degree to which its target audiences such as youth and their parents are exposed to information about it, reasons for volunteering or objection to this initiative, implications of the service for its volunteers, as well as changes in attitudes over time. Its comparative emphasis provides a larger context by which findings can be interpreted.

The report is relevant to a variety of audiences, such as civic leaders, policy makers, and academics. For policy makers, this report provides information on the implications of the initiative as well as the obstacles and opportunities in implementation. For civic leaders, the report provides information on opportunities for change, especially with regards to issues of gender in Arab society. Finally, the report provides important additional information and insight to the role of the state in Arab-Jewish relations in Israel, especially in the field of gender in Arab society in Israel.