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Jewish majority government against the Palestinians and has led many Arabs to reconstruct their identity. Whereas before the Intifada, Arab citizens of Israel ...

Submitted to the European Journal of Social Psychology May 22nd 2007

Ingroup and Outgroup Friendships and Campus Perceptions: Comparing Israeli Arab and Jewish Students

Ruth Sharabany, Rachel Hertz-Lazarowitz, Hilla Pertz, University of Haifa, Israel Tamar Zelniker, Tel Aviv University, Israel

Faisal Azaiza and Haggai Kupermintz University of Haifa, Israel

Correspondence: Ruth Sharabany Department of Psychology, University of Haifa Haifa, Israel 31905


Phone: 972-4-8240-920 Fax: 972-4-8240-966 e-mail: [email protected]

Portions of this paper were presented at the International Association for Relationships Research Conference (IARRC), July 7-13, 2006, University of Crete, Rethymno, Crete, Greece


Abstract There is a growing recognition of the impact of different ethnic groups on university campuses and the potential of multicultural universities to enhance equality and acceptance by promoting positive contact and relationships between the different groups (Neimann & Maruyama, 2005).The present study explored whether the nature of friendships with the ingroup or the outgroup is related to how students evaluate their university experience. The question was asked specifically within the context of belonging to a Jewish majority or to Arab minority on an Israeli university campus. This is particularly challenging when the groups on campus differ in nationality are involved in political conflict, as is the case in the University of Haifa where our research was conducted. Individual friendships and as well as group friendships were examined, and their relation to the perception of the campus as supporting positive processes (i.e. accommodating diversity and egalitarianism) or as supporting negative processes (i.e. fostering discrimination and intolerance). Four processes that mediate group attitude change through contact were used as conceptual framework (Pettigrew, 1998). Results indicated that contact between the two groups does breed outgroup friendships on both the individual and group levels, which in turn is related to how the university is perceived, depending on whether one is a member in the minority or majority group.


Introduction The reality that university campuses include students from diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds makes them natural laboratories for the study of inter-group relations. Researchers are asking whether diversity in the college experience contributes to an increase in contact between groups and whether such contact can promote inter-group friendships and positive changes in the perceptions of each other (Eller & Abrams, 2004; Hertz-Lazarowitz, 2003, 2006). Little research has been conducted to determine whether such contact and interactions foster outgroup friendships, and how it relates to positive or negative perception of the campus. In this study, we focused on friendship with outgroup members on a university campus. Specifically, we explored whether individual friendships and group friendships with outgroup members would predict positive perceptions of the university as accepting and just or negative perceptions of the university as rejecting and prejudiced towards certain groups. This is particularly challenging when the groups on campus differ in nationality are involved in political conflict, and have minority-majority status as is the case in the University of Haifa, in Israel where our research was conducted. The University of Haifa, has 16,000 students and is a highly diverse campus in terms of nationality, religion, and ethnicity. Eighty percent of the students are Jewish, with the majority born in Israel and approximately one-quarter immigrants, mostly from the former Soviet Union (FSU) and Ethiopia. Arabs make up 20% of the student body and vary in their religious affiliations. The majority are Muslims, alongside Christians and Druze. The university is the first context for daily contact of Arab and Jewish students because the Israeli


educational system is segregated at both the elementary and the secondary schooling level (Al Haj, 2004; Azaiza et al. 2006; Hertz- Lazarowitz & Zelniker, 2006). For several decades, the University of Haifa has been the site of moderate peaceful attitudes and coexistence, despite the occasional conflicts that erupt between groups of Arab and Jewish students on various academic and national issues. Based on daily observations on campus, it appears that although the two national groups are mostly separated socially, they do share many academic and social activities, with ongoing daily contact and the potential to develop closer relationships between them (Hertz-Lazarowitz, 1988; Hofman, 1988). Pettigrew (1998) suggests that having even a single friend from an outgroup reduces the level of blunt intolerance, as the feelings towards that person are generalized to the rest of the outgroup members. The present study examined whether this claim holds true in Israel within the context of the socio-political conflict between Jews and Arabs. Friendship was measured on the two levels of individual friendship and group friendship, both with ingroup and outgroup peers. The research aims were to examine whether friendships between Arab and Jewish students exist on campus, and the ways in which these friendships are related to the students’ positive or negative perceptions of life on campus. Following Pettigrew, we hypothesized that having outgroup friends on campus would predict perceptions of the campus as more positive, reflecting acceptance and equality, and would reduce negative perceptions of the campus, reflecting rejection and discrimination (Pettigrew & Meertens, 1995, Pettigrew & Tropp, 2006; Stephan & Stephan, 2005). Before addressing these issues, a brief overview of Israeli society and Jewish-Arab relations within it follows.


Background of Israeli society Israel’s total population numbers seven million people (CBS, 2006), and this relatively small number consists of a quite diverse population. Today, social scientists in Israel identify four major divisions in Israeli society. Three of these are within the Jewish population, and the fourth is between Arabs and Jews. The first is an ethnic division between Jews of Middle Eastern origin (Sephardim) and Jews of European and American origin (Ashkenazim), which are about equally divided. The second is a religious division between orthodox Jews (17%) and the rest of the Jewish population, which is composed of “traditional” and secular Jews. The third is a division between native-born Israelis and immigrants (17%), mostly from the former Soviet Union (FSU). The fourth division is between Jews (80%) and Arabs (20%). Arabs in Israel are defined by sociologists as a minority (Beilin, 1992; Ghanem, 2001, 2005; Yiftachel, 2006). The intensity of the three divisions within the Jewish majority group has become less salient in recent years following policies of integration, particularly in the schools (Eshel, Sharabany, & Bar-Sadeh, 2003) ANS as reflected by upward mobility and an increasing number of intermarriages between Jews of all origins (Ayalon & Shavit, 2004;; Horowitz, 2003; Kalekin-Fishman, 2004; Kimberling, 2001; Smooha, 1997). The Jewish-Arab division remains the most prominent split in Israeli society (see review of the culture, education, language, and political context of Israeli society, in White-Stephan, Hertz-Lazarowitz, Zelniker, and Stephen ,2004). The involvement of Israeli Arabs and Jews in national and political tensions has been influenced by the ongoing and occasionally violent conflicts between neighboring Arab countries and Israel, as well as by peace agreements (Cleveland, 2004; Hofman, 1988). In


recent years, these tensions have also been affected by the increasingly violent conflict between Israel and Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Following the shortlived period of hope for peace in the wake of the Oslo Agreement, the conflict intensified with the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin by a Jewish extremist in 1995 (AbuNimer, 2004; White-Stephan, Hertz-Lazarowitz, Zelniker, & Stephan, 2004). Since the first uprising of Palestinians ( the "Intifada") of 1989, and more so after the outbreak of the second Intifada in 2000, the concern felt by Arab citizens of Israel for their Palestinian compatriots in the West Bank and Gaza has fueled criticism of political and military actions taken by the Jewish majority government against the Palestinians and has led many Arabs to reconstruct their identity. Whereas before the Intifada, Arab citizens of Israel tended to express their identity in terms such as ‘Arabs’ or ‘Israeli Arabs,’ following the Intifada they now express their identity more often as ‘Palestinian Arabs’ or ‘Arab Israeli Palestinians.’

Arab society within Israel: Socio-cultural and political aspects The Arab population in Israel is composed of a Muslim majority (82%) alongside Christians (8%); Druze, Bedouins, and Circassians (5%); and other small groups (5%) (CBS, 2006). Most Jews live in Jewish cities, while most Arabs (90%) live in Arab villages. There are eight mixed Arab-Jewish cities in Israel (Ghanem, 2001; Halabi & Sonnenschein, 2004; Rouhana, 1997). Within Israel, relations between Jewish and Arab citizens are characterized by coexistence and conflict. There is an unequal allocation of infrastructure and educational resources, though not according to official policy. This inequality leads to increasing Arab dissatisfaction with the government and creates dissatisfaction on the part of Arab leadership in general and its educational leadership in particular (Al Haj, 2004; Kalekin-Fishman, 2004).


Through their representatives in the Knesset and numerous non-government organizations Arab citizens struggle to achieve greater equality of civil rights and more equal allocation of resources by the State. The Jewish-Arab division within Israel has persisted since 1948, with issues of identity, civic equality, and domination at the fore. Culturally, Arab society has a collectivistic core characterized by a strong sense of belonging to the community and priority of the community over the individual in terms of interests and decision making (Oyserman, Coon, & Kimmerling, 2001; Triandis, 1995). While the Jewish sector functions primarily as a modern industrial and urban society, the Arab sector is now in a rapid process of modernization (Al Haj, 2004). This transition from traditional values and customs to a greater degree of individualism is reflected, for example, in an increased emphasis on the nuclear family and the reduced role of extended families (Dwairy, 1998, 2004). A significant factor in this process of change is the increasing number of Arabs in general, and young women in particular, who are entering universities and becoming agents of change and empowerment (Gilat, 2006; Hertz-Lazarowitz & Shapira, 2005; Rabinowitz & Abu Baker, 2002). Recent research found that the common style of parenting among Arabs is more modern, authoritative (combining authority with warmth), and authoritarian (power oriented) only among villagers (Sharabany, Eshel & Hakim, in press). Similarly, female Arab university students were found to be similar to their Jewish peers in the degree of individualism and collectivism reported (Ben-Shaul, Sharabany, & Kurman, 2004; Oyserman, Coon, & Kimmerling, 2001).


The University of Haifa (UH): An "Umwelt" for inter-group contacts

The term “Umwelt” was defined by Lewin (1935) as the physical environment crossing its social meaning. In Israel, the University of Haifa is such an Umwelt, reflecting the physical and social characteristics of Israeli society. Haifa is one of the eight mixed ArabJewish cities in Israel. Since the establishment of the University in the mid-1960s, the proportion of Arabs on campus has been reflective of their proportion in the population. These Arab students are native-born and aspire to pursue higher education (Al-Haj, 1998; HertzLazarowitz & Zelniker, 2006; Mar’i, 1978). Three-quarters of the Jewish students are also native Israelis, while the remaining one-quarter is comprised of immigrants, mostly from FSU countries and some from Ethiopia and other countries. The noticeable presence of Arab students on campus in this unique mixed Umwelt, and the salience of their language, apparel, and culture, provides them with a sense of power and an expressed quest for respect which was lacking in their segregated schooling. Conversely, it makes many Jewish students feel threatened by the loss of power and the weakening of their identity in the Umwelt. As such, the University of Haifa is one of the leading educational institutions in which the advancement of the Arab population takes place within the constraints of Jewish majority control (Al Haj, 1998). Thus, the University of Haifa campus can be perceived as a natural laboratory for studying the unique nature of Arab-Jewish intergroup relations and friendship. Over the years, Jewish and Arab students have become actors in an ongoing social drama on campus (Harre, 1978), with daily life on campus characterized primarily by routine educational activities conducted in peaceful coexistence, but occasionally punctuated by conflict (Hertz-Lazarowitz, 1988, 2006). Arab and Jewish students study together in classes live together in the university dormitories,


and each group has its own representatives in the Student Union. Individuals from both national groups share a common goal to advance their education and obtain an academic degree. They interact regularly on campus throughout their academic experience. The University officially supports diversity and has established a few centers, such as the Jewish– Arab Center, aimed to increase contact between the two groups. Moreover, the University of Haifa is perceived as a significant environment for the development of future academic and political leadership among both Jews and Arabs. All of this background may be conducive to the development of intergroup personal relationships and perhaps friendships. However, factors on the macro level (Bronfenbrenner, 2005), the socio political level, both in the country and in the region are far from supporting intergroup closeness or friendship. Those include dissatisfaction over unequal civic rights for the Arab citizens of Israel; the Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip; the long history of wars, conflict and violence within and between Israel and the Arab states in the region; the growing threat to and fear for their existence among the Jews in Israel; and the growing fear among Arab citizens of Israel about their future. The daily life of Arab and Jewish students is constantly affected by these contextual multidimensional threats (Hertz-Lazarowitz 1988, 2003). Thus, it is not clear that intergroup friendships on campus will be found.

The contact hypothesis: Jews and Arabs studying together There is renewed interest in the potential of universities that have a diverse body of students to enhance equality and acceptance by promoting positive contact and relationships among the various groups that often hold mutual prejudices (Niemann & Maruyama, 2005). Since the 1940s and early 1950s, it has been generally assumed that the mere opportunity for


ingroup contact would improve mutual attitudes and increase positive relations among groups with a history of conflict. The premise is that contact provides an opportunity for mutual acquaintance, which enhances understanding and acceptance among the interacting group members. This efficacy of contact theory has been supported by empirical experimental findings, as summarized and reviewed by Allport (1954), Amir (1969), Miller and Brewer, (1984), and more recently by Pettigrew and Tropp (2006), concluding that contact often (but not always) positively changes attitudes and relations between diverse ethnic groups. The main conditions needed for positive change in relationships, as initially proposed by Allport (1954), include: (1) support and encouragement of inter-group contact by authority figures significant to the persons participating in the contact; (2) equal status of the interacting groups; (3) cooperation between members of interacting groups; and (4) enjoyable and intimate encounters that foster meaningful interaction between the participants. These conditions are found to be important in many types of inter-group contact, including ArabJewish relationships in Israel (Ben-Ari & Amir, 1985, 1989). This approach, known as the Contact Hypothesis, has been criticized almost since its very conception, specifically in relation to Jewish-Arab groups. The argument is that even if research were successful in identifying all the conditions promoting successful inter-group contact, the reality is that establishing and maintaining the conditions needed for effective contact is often impossible. This is particularly true in the Jewish-Arab case, where the intergroup political macro level conflict makes it very difficult to bring these two populations together to participate in a contact situation and even more difficult to maintain the necessary conditions to ensure the positive effects of such contact (Ben-Ari, 2004). For these reasons the


existence of inter-group friendships and their relation to how the campus is perceived merit investigation. Pettigrew (1998) suggested that Allport’s (1954) four conditions and an additional fifth one, friendship potential, are essential situational factors for attitude change towards members of the outgroup. Pettigrew suggested that four processes mediate attitude change through contact: 1) learning about the outgroup members; 2) generating affective ties; 3) inter-group reappraisal; and 4) changing behavior. Quality of contact, such as expressed in attitudes of group friendship and especially in having an individual close friend, appears to be pivotal in achieving attitude change (Eller & Abrams, 2004). This is the main theoretical framework of inter-group friendship used in the present paper. University of Haifa: A context for potential positive contact and friendship between Jewish and Arab students To date, there has been little research conducted on close relationships in the Arab culture in general, and even less about inter-group friendships of adolescents and young adults (Sharabany, 2006; Sharabany, Eshel, & Hakim, in press; Scharf & Hertz-Lazarowitz, 2003; Hertz-Lazarowitz et al., 2004). Research on intergroup friendship has been conducted in the USA mainly within the framework of race theories (Hallinan & Williams, 1989; Quillian & Campbell, 2006); in Europe as related to multicultural understandings (Verkuyten & Martinovic, 2005); and in cross-cultural studies mainly using individualism-collectivism concepts (French, Bay, Pidada, & Lee, 2006). In Israel, interethnic friendships and interethnic attitudes were studied following the integration of Jewish secondary schools in the seventies (Eshel, 1993; Klien & Eshel, 1980; Sharan, Kussel, & Hertz-Lazarowitz, 1984). Most of the


research conducted globally points to the fact that cross-racial and cross-ethnic friendships increase with school diversity. We predict that the University of Haifa does provide potential, to some extent, for positive interaction, contact and friendship between Arab and Jewish students, despite the presence of factors that may inhibit the formation of close relationships between group members. Since the Arab students constitute a minority group, we expect, based on previous studies of school integration in Israel, that their aspiration for contact with the majority group will be higher than vice versa (Eshel, 1993; Eshel, Sharabany, & Bar-Sadeh; Klein & Eshel, 1980). Hypotheses: 1. Due to contact on campus, individual and group friendships will be found between Arab and Jewish students of campus. 2. Arab students, being minority will report a larger number of individual outgroup friends and greater closeness to them, as well as greater friendship with Jewish students as a group. 3. For both national groups, higher outgroup friendship will predict more positive perceptions of the campus as a place of equality, acceptance, and tolerance. 4. For both national groups, having at least one close individual outgroup friend will predict stronger positive campus perceptions. 5. For both national groups, a higher level of ingroup friendship, a larger number of ingroup friends, and a greater degree of closeness to them will predict more positive campus perceptions.


Method Participants The sample consisted of 784 students, including 40% Jewish and 60% Arab students, 61% of whom were women and 39% men. Among the Arab group, all of whom were born in Israel, 57% were Muslims, 29% Christians, and 14% Druze. Among the Jewish group, 56% were born in Israel, 22% were born in the former Soviet Union (FSU), and 22% were born in Ethiopia. The mean age for the total sample was 24.5, and the majority (80%) were single and in their second or third year of undergraduate studies in various faculties and departments of the university. Measures Three questionnaires were used, one pertaining to positive and negative perceptions about life on campus and two pertaining to group and individual friendships, as described below: 1. Perception of life on campus: This questionnaire included two parts, each having 22 items rated on a Likert scale. A. Positive perception of campus life: Positive aspects of campus life, including opportunities for academic and social contacts; exposure to different cultures; an atmosphere of democracy; and a feeling of acceptance. For example: “On our campus, the encounter between different cultures teaches tolerance.” The alpha Cronbach for this part of the scale was .86. B. Negative perception of campus life: Negative aspects of campus life, including feelings of tension, discrimination, and being stereotyped. For example: “On our campus, there is political tension between different groups.” The alpha Cronbach for this part of the scale was .78.


2. Individual friendship: Each participant was asked to provide the names of up to 10 close friends, indicating nationality and indicating on a five-point Likert scale the degree of closeness to each one. From this grid, five indices were created as follows: a.“Existence” of an outgroup friend having at least one friend named from the outgroup; Based on the literature, this measure was considered to be important and indicated crossing a qualitative threshold of meaningful involvement with the outgroup (Pettigrew, 1998; Pettigrew & Meertense, 1995; Pettigrew & Tropp, 2006). b. “Number” of friends listed from the ingroup and number from the outgroup; c. Degree of “closeness” to ingroup and to outgroup friends. 3. Group friendship: This scale measures attitudes to friends as a group, referring separately to the ingroup and to the outgroup, with items rated on a Likert scale. a. Group Friendship: The first 10 items were based on the dimensions of the Sharabany Intimacy Scale (Sharabany, 1994). The original eight dimensions of the scale are: frankness and spontaneity; sensitivity and knowing; attachment; exclusivity; helping and sharing; receiving and imposing; common activities; trust and loyalty. An adaptation of this scale was used by Hertz-Lazarowitz, Rosenberg, and Guttmann (1989). An example item is: “I speak with them about personal things.” b.. Academic cooperation: The second part of the scale contains an additional 10 items, focusing on instrumental common activities related to the academic context, including four dimensions: cooperation and help; consulting; receiving information; and extending the relationship beyond the university (Hertz-Lazarowitz, 2004). An example item is: “We study together for exams.” Since the two parts were highly correlated, they were combined to form a single scale of 20 items (alpha Cronbach .90) measuring group friendship with ingroup and outgroup.


4. Background data: Information about background data included age, gender, residence (city vs. village), and academic background (degree, level, and faculty). Procedure Arab and Jewish students from the Faculty of Education distributed the questionnaires on campus in various courses that had a diverse composition of students. The questionnaires were presented in Hebrew, as it is the formal teaching language used at the University of Haifa and all the Arab students studying on campus have mastery of the language.

Results Jewish and Arab students compared on individual and group friendships: A series of t-tests compared the scores of the Jewish and Arab students on six measures: number of ingroup and number of outgroup individual friends; closeness to these individual friends; and group friendships, both ingroup and outgroup. The t-tests indicated that the Arab students had a significantly larger number of individual outgroup friends (t= -5.65; p= .001; M= 1.43 M=.74, respectively). Furthermore, they rated their group friendships with the ingroup (t= 2.31; p= .05; M= 3.70 M=3.59, respectively) as well as with the outgroup significantly higher than did the Jewish students (t= 6.16; p= .001; M= 2.89 M=2.53, respectively). Both Arab and Jewish students were similar in the number of ingroup friends listed and the degree of closeness to those ingroup friends (see Table 1). --Insert Table 1 about here--The frequency of having at least one friend from the outgroup, “Existence of an Outgroup Friend,” was calculated as a score of zero or one. A significantly larger percentage


of Arab students (56%) named at least one outgroup friend (n=216), as compared to 33% of the Jewish participants (n=103). A χ2 test was significant at the p