New poll shows strong anti-Arab sentiment among Israeli Jews

New poll shows strong anti-Arab sentiment among Israeli Jews

Intolerance toward non-Jewish minority highest among religious respondents; survey commissioned by Channel 10 to parallel CNN poll on European anti-Semitism

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

A Palestinian Muslim woman walks by ultra-Orthodox Jewish men in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City, on June 18, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
A Palestinian Muslim woman walks by ultra-Orthodox Jewish men in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City, on June 18, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

A new poll released Sunday indicated that there is a strong anti-Arab sentiment among Israeli Jews, particularly among religious communities.

The survey [Hebrew link], conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute for Channel 10, polled 500 Israelis from across the religious spectrum as a follow-up to a CNN poll last month that revealed high levels of anti-Semitism in Europe, which drew widespread condemnations in Israel. It gave no margin of error.

According to the poll, secular Israelis are far more tolerant of Arabs than religious Israelis. The results indicated the more religious the respondent, the more likely they were to reject the non-Jewish minority.

Over half of respondents said they agreed to some extent with the statement: “Most Jews are better than most non-Jews because they were born Jews.” Another 17% said they thought statement was not “totally true,” while 20% rejected it completely. Among the 52% who said the statement was “totally true” or “pretty true,” 66% identified as ultra-Orthodox, 45% identified as religious Zionists and 13% as identified as traditionally observant. In stark contrast, only 7.1% of Israelis who identified as secular said they supported the statement.

Some 37% of respondents said they were either “somewhat disturbed” or “very disturbed” by the fact that half the pharmacists in Israel are Arabs. Again, the objection to high numbers of Arab pharmacists mostly came from ultra-Orthodox respondents at 30%, followed by 25% of religious Zionists, 14% of traditionally observant Jews. Just over 11% of the secular Israelis polled said the phenomenon was “very disturbing.”

The poll found 27% of respondents said they were either “a little disturbed” or “very disturbed” by the fact that an Arab-Israeli Supreme Court Justice, George Kara, headed the judicial panel that convicted former president Moshe Katsav of rape.

An Arab Israeli girl casts her mother’s ballot at a polling station in the northern Israeli town of Umm al-Fahm on March 17, 2015. (photo credit: AFP / AHMAD GHARABLI)

Channel 10 said the questions about Justice Kara and Arab pharmacists were meant to parallel CNN’s questions about what Europeans believed about the extent of Jewish influence.

Seventy-four percent of respondents said they get at least a little disturbed by hearing conversation in Arabic in public.

Another 88% of respondents said they would be disturbed to some degree if their son were to befriend an Arab girl. The number climbed to 90% when respondents were asked about their daughter befriending an Arab boy.

Channel 10 said they commission the poll from the IDI to “examine how racism, which underpins anti-Semitism, is being expressed by the Jewish Israeli public.

Th TV station said it recycled some of the questions asked in the CNN poll to uncover the Jewish attitudes of living with “the other.”

Channel 10 noted that one of the main topics in the CNN survey concerned the Holocaust, saying that it’s generally assumed that studying the genocide of European Jewry makes a person aware of consequences of racism and are less likely to be anti-Semitism. So in its poll, the TV station said it wanted to learn “what do the Jews, who demand world remember the Holocaust, know about the annihilation of other peoples?”

The results showed that an overwhelming majority of Israeli Jews — between 70-80% — said they knew “very little” or “nothing at all” about the Armenian, Cambodian or Rwandan genocides.

The TV station said it was not drawing an exact parallel between European intolerance of Jews to Jewish intolerance of non-Jews, but said “rejecting ‘the other’ is a common sentiment in most societies, but its consequences are not necessarily equal in its severity.”

Jacob Magid contributed to this report.

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