An Israeli organization called Sikui, which has defined its mission as ensuring that Israel's Arabs have full social and economic equality, has published a report telling that the Arab lifespan in Israel is 4 years shorter than the life expectancy of the Jews.
So far, so bad. Another factoid proving that the Israelis are racists, and that Israel is an apartheid state etc. You know the mantra.
Except that like all narratives, and certainly statistical ones, the trick is all in how you frame the picture.
According to this fine website full of interesting comparative statistics, you could also frame the same statistics differently. Let's assume that life expectancy is the single most important objective indicator about the success of a society: if it enables its members to live longer, it gives them more time to do the right things in life and correct the wrong things. Well, out of 220 countries with data on life expectancy, Israel is number 21, with a life expectancy in 2007 of 79.59, for Jews and Arabs together. Since Sikui is comparing the Israeli Arabs to the Israeli Jews, i.e you need to take off the 20% of Arabs pulling down the statistic about Israel's Jews, let's say that the life expectancy of Israel's Jews is 80, which would put them at 15th place. The Israeli Arabs live four years less, which ranks them at 68th place in the world. Their life expectancy is a mere 4 months less than that of Argentina (ranked 62), and it's higher, among others, than Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Tunisia, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Algeria, Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt, Syria, Iran, Iraq.... you see where I'm going with this. If you want to be an Arab, and you want to live long, you'd best be born in Jordan, but if that doesn't work, the next two candidates are Libya and.... Israel.
There are other ways you could frame the same statistics, tho that useful website won't help: rather than look at a frozen moment in time, lacking all context, you might perhaps wish to seek the trends: where are we coming from and in what direction are we going? I wrote about this briefly in Right to Exist, after I dug up some comparative statistics of Jews vs. Arabs in Mandatory Palestine in the 1940s, before the State of Israel was created. What I found there was that the difference between life expectancy of Jews and Arabs under the British was vast, but that ever since Israel took responsibility for its Arab citizens the gap has been closing. It's still not gone, but the trend is positive.
All of which raises the question as to the root causes of the lower life expectancy of Israel's Arabs compared to her Jews: is it because of racism apartheid and general nastiness, or is it perhaps a case of Israel's Jews doing their best to pull Israel's Arabs out of the Arab inability to make the most of the modern world, an attempt which is only partially successful?
Before finishing this post, you might want to notice that the weighted average for the entire world's population is 68.4 years. Israel, of course, is way above that, Jews and Arabs, but guess who else is above the all-humanity average: the West Bank (73.46 years), and, believe it or not, the Gaza Strip, where the life expectancy is 72.16, or more than 4 years longer than the average of all humanity. Do you think it's conceivable that perhaps the Gaza strip isn't the worst place on the globe? Just perhaps?