An annual poll released on Tuesday showed growing distrust between Israel’s Jewish and Arab populations, with over one-third of Jewish Israelis maintaining that the government should encourage their Arab compatriots to emigrate.
The Israel Democracy Index also found that over half (55.7%) of Jewish Israelis believe one cannot identify as a Palestinian and be a loyal citizen, some 39% said Arab Israelis pose a security threat, and 42.3% said Arab Israelis support the destruction of the State of Israel.
Some 60 percent of Jewish Israelis said only citizens who have signed a declaration of loyalty to the state and have served in the army or national service should retain the right to vote or be elected to Knesset. Some 83.8% of Arab Israelis opposed it.
“We asked respondents if it would bother them to live next to eight groups of others: secular Jews, ultra-Orthodox Jews, an Arab family, a Jewish family, people with mental health disorders, an Ethiopian-Israeli family, foreign workers, a homosexual couple, and people with intellectual/developmental disabilities,” the study said.
For Jews, the “most unwelcome neighbors” were foreign workers (48.5%), followed by an Arab family (36.1%). Arabs were most averse to living near an ultra-Orthodox family (42.6%), followed by a homosexual couple (40.4%).
A slim majority (52.3%) of Jewish respondents disagreed with the statement “Most Arab citizens of Israel have not reconciled themselves to the state’s existence, and support its destruction,” while 42.3% concurred. Over two-thirds (69.7%) of Arab respondents rejected this statement, while 24.3% agreed.
More than half (55.4%) of Israelis disagree that the government should be encouraging Arab Israeli emigration, but 37.5% “feel that such a step on the part of the state is in fact desirable,” the study said.
The study found that an overwhelming majority of both Jewish and Arab Israelis (84.3% of Jews and 83.4% of Arabs) would choose to remain in Israel, even if offered citizenship in the United States or other Western countries.
The findings were based on a sample of 1,019 adults who were interviewed between April-May 2015. The sample of error was +/- 3.2%.
IDI President Yohanan Plesner said the results “reveal the deepening divide between Israel’s Jewish and Arab citizens. Apparently, support for the value of equality is limited in Israel and only declarative. Too many Jewish Israeli citizens prefer to prevent the integration of Arab citizens in areas where they could play a role in helping to make decisions for the nation.”
“The strength of the people of Israel, the existence of Israeli democracy, is not a given,” said President Reuven Rivlin. “It is incumbent on us to forever strengthen it, to continue to strive for true democracy in Israel. … Even in these difficult days, it is forbidden for us to forget that the war at home will only pass when we struggle with how to live together, continue to communicate, and defend the arc of trust and ideas.”