Jewish Israeli teens lean right, many support ‘price tag’

Only 9% of adolescents consider themselves left-wing; 45% say they wouldn’t study in a class with Arabs

Students in Kiryat Sharet high school in Holon take their matriculation exams in mathematics, May 21, 2013. (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)
Students in Kiryat Sharet high school in Holon take their matriculation exams in mathematics, May 21, 2013. (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)

Jewish Israeli teens are becoming increasingly polarized in their political beliefs, with more than half identifying as politically right-wing and less than 30 percent willing to condemn attacks against Arabs, according to a poll published Tuesday.

Four hundred teens between the ages of 12 and 18 were canvassed for the survey across a spectrum of religious, national and political backgrounds, including Jews and Arabs, NRG reported.

According to the poll, 52% of Israeli adolescents define themselves as right-wing, 30% see themselves as centrist, and only 9% consider themselves left-wing.

When asked about Israel’s Jewish and democratic character, 41% of Jewish students responded that the state’s Jewish character is more important than its democratic one, while 25% answered the opposite.

Among Arab students, 96% responded they believe Israel should be democratic first and Jewish second.

Divisions between Jews and Arabs were evident throughout the survey. Forty-five percent of Jewish teens said they were not prepared to sit in the same classroom with Arab classmates, while 39% of Arab students said the same of their Jewish peers.

Thirty-five percent of Jewish students and 27% of Arabs also said they have never interacted with peers from the other group, while 20% of traditional and secular Jewish-Israeli teens have never held a conversation with an ultra-Orthodox peer.

While 76% of secular Israelis were willing to live in the same apartment building as Arabs, only 37% of religious Jews and 11% of ultra-Orthodox teens said the same. Sixty-eight percent of Arab adolescents said they were willing to have Jewish neighbors.

Many Arab and Haredi respondents reflected their anxieties about their place in society, with 40% of Arab teens saying they were concerned about their sector’s place in Israeli society, while about a third of Haredi teens responded the same.

In an alarming trend, only 28% of Jewish respondents said they condemned so-called price tag attacks associated with religious, far-right Jewish groups, with students from a traditional home surprisingly more likely to decry those attacks than their secular peers.

Such incidents of violence or vandalism target Palestinians or Israeli security forces and are asserted to be payback for actions against the settlement enterprise.

Of the students who identified as right-wing, 48% condoned or said they understood the rationale behind such attacks.

The support for price tag attacks seem to run contrary to the widespread condemnation for the activity that has been voiced by senior Israeli officials from across the political spectrum.

The survey also examined teens’ willingness to express their political opinions, with an overwhelming 84% noting they avoid airing their views online. Among those who did express themselves, a third reported being harassed for their beliefs on the net.

The results were presented at a confab (Hebrew) on the state of education in Israel on Tuesday, featuring President Reuven Rivlin among other speakers. Co-sponsored by the Israel Democracy Institute and the Open University, the conference examined public education trends and changing demographics in the Jewish state.

The poll was conducted by the Rafi Smith Institute. A margin of error was not provided.

“At a time when we are witnessing increased instances of intolerance, racism, discrimination and violence, education must play a key role in shaping Israeli society as democratic, open and enlightened,” said Professor Kobi Metzer, the president of the Open University.

“[It’s an equality] that should be conferred upon members of various groups regardless of their label or status,” Metzer said.

read more:
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed