UPDATE: For a closer look at the results of the poll mentioned in this article, please click here: 2012 Israeli Jewish Public Opinion Info Sheet
Nazareth – This past Tuesday, October 24, 2012, the front page story of Ha’aretz ran with the title “Survey: Most Israeli Jews would support apartheid regime in Israel”. The article and an accompanying piece of commentary were written by Gideon Levy, a known critic of the Israeli treatment of the Palestinians. In the piece, Levy presents the results of a survey conducted by Dr. Camil Fuchs of Tel Aviv University at the Dialog Polling Center. The purported purpose of the survey was to discover the positions of Israel’s Jewish population on racism and Apartheid. An English summary of the findings concludes that Apartheid in Israel is possible, specifically that “In case of annexation, most Jews will support Apartheid” and that “Israeli Jews want to discriminate against Israeli Arabs.”
Levy reports that the poll was ordered by the Yisrael Goldblum Fund, a frequent collaborator with the New Israel Fund (NIF); however, the NIF has publicly denied participation. Despite the controversy surrounding the poll’s provenance, the results are simultaneously striking and frightening.
I would like to present some of the findings of the poll to you here. It is my fervent and sincere belief that the numbers that follow are trustworthy and that they quantify, in many cases for the first time, the bleak reality facing the Arab Palestinian minority in Israel.
The poll was conducted between September 9th and 12th of this year. 503 Jewish Israelis participated.
Though the term in question was not specifically defined on the survey itself, 58% of responders accepted the description of current affairs in Israel as “Apartheid”.
33% of Jewish Israelis polled were in favor of legally denying Arabs the right to vote, if the West Bank were to be annexed. 49% want the government to take more care of its Jewish citizens than its Arab citizens. 42% do not want Arab families as neighbors. 42% do not want Arab children in classrooms with their own. 47% support a population transfer of Arabs to the Palestinian Authority. Only 38% of responders believe that, in no respects, is there Apartheid in Israel today.
Though there was racism against the Arab Palestinian minority from all sectors polled, the ultra Orthodox held the most severe opinions. 70% of self-identified ultra Orthodox favor barring Arabs from voting in the case of an annexation of the West Bank, 82% would support discrimination against Arabs in hiring for government jobs, and 79% will not accept Arab neighbors.
These figures have provoked a massive response from partisans on all sides of the issue from all over the world. I think that the additional attention to the issue is a positive development, but I encourage readers to see past the polarizing “Apartheid” label to the reality these numbers describe. There is a clear divide in Israeli society and the majority of Israelis clearly see no benefit in bridging it for the sake of the achievement of equal, democratic rights for every citizen. Additionally, I think that this poll illustrates the increasing challenge the HRA faces in its work raising awareness of Palestinian issues in Israel as well as the importance of the work we do in educating the Palestinian youth on human rights values and ways to struggle against the discriminatory practices in a positive manner.