By Mohammad Darawshe (for Safe Democracy)

Mohammad Darawshe analyzes the relatively low percentage of Arabs in the Israeli work force and proposes two possible causes: a generally prejudiced Israeli society or certain Arab traditions that prevent educated young people from reaching their full potential. He explains that the Israeli economy would benefit from making better use of its university-educated Arab citizens. He notes that stereotyping and segregation on both the Arab and Jewish parts will only make the situation worse, and asks which factor, if not both, will change first- the Jewish-Arab discrimination or Arab culture?

Mohammad Darawshe is a political analyst. He is Director of External Relations at The Abraham Fund. He is cofounder of One Voice Movement, for peace.

THE CURRENT STATE OF EMPLOYMENT FOR ISRAEL’S EDUCATED ARAB POPULATION is one of evident underutilization. In the field of Math and Science, for example, where in 2005 Arab graduates comprised 7.7 per cent of those who received first degrees, they constitute only 4 per cent of biologists and pharmacologists, and 5 per cent of Israel’s chemists, physicists and mathematicians, while being 20 per cent of the population. These figures indicate that Israel is not maximizing the potential of its human capital. In last month’s Haaretz, an article titled Majority of Israeli Arabs are not part of labor force, correspondent Yoav Stern noted that unlike the rest of the world, a rise in educational level in Israel does not secure better employment opportunity. The reason for this gap remains unclear; is discrimination to blame, cultural norms, or a combination of the two?

The existence of blatant racist attitudes between Jews and Arabs in Israel will surprise no one. The Index of Arab-Jewish relations for 2004 states that 48.2 per cent of the Arabs and 57.8 per cent of the Jews feel that it is impossible to trust most of the members of the other people