Arison was born in New York City, and is the daughter of the businessman Ted Arison and Mina Arison Sapir. She has an older brother, Micky. In 1966 her parents divorced, and she moved to reside with her mother in Israel. At the age of 12 she returned to the US to live with her Father, and five years later she returned to Israel in order to enlist in the Israel Defense Forces.
In 1999 Arison's Father died, and bequeathed her 35% of his possessions. In 2003, she caused a large amount of protest after 900 workers were fired from Bank Hapoalim.
In March 2009, Arison sponsored Israel’s third annual “Good Deeds Day” in which her non-profit organization, Ruach Tova, inspired thousands of Israelis to get involved in volunteering across the country. As part of the event, which took place near Tel Aviv, a Palestinian youth orchestra performed in an hour-long concert in honor of Holocaust survivors. They played classical Arabic tunes and songs of peace, but upon the group’s return to Jenin, authorities condemned the orchestra’s leader for her “exploitation of the children for political purposes.” The event garnered lots of media attention from around the world. Following the concert to celebrate “Good Deeds Day”, the orchestra Conductor was expelled from her hometown of Jenin.
Arison was awarded the America–Israel Friendship League's Partners for Democracy award in 2010.