Majority of Israelis support sending migrants home

Poll carried out after series of demonstrations against migrant workers in Tel Aviv, some of which turned violent.

July 15, 2012 04:07
2 minute read.
African migrants protest deportations

African migrants protest deportations 370. (photo credit: Ben Hartman)

A survey published in the current edition of The Jerusalem Report reveals that an overwhelming majority of Israelis support government plans to send illegal migrants back to their countries of origin.

The poll was carried out in late June after a series of demonstrations against the migrant workers in Tel Aviv, some of which turned violent.

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Pollster Dahlia Scheindlin said she visited the Shapira neighborhood of south Tel Aviv and found veteran residents who said they were afraid to go out at night because the migrants were dangerous. But she said accusations of rampant crime among the largely African community are baseless.

“According to figures compiled by both the police and the Knesset research department, the crime rate among the migrants is just 2 percent – less than half the 5% crime rate among the general Israeli population,” Scheindlin said.

In response to the question, “Do you support or oppose the expulsion of the African infiltrators?” 75% of Israelis, an unambiguous majority, support the government policy even when it is described using the loaded term “expulsion.”

“Nor do the respondents back the government with a heavy heart,” she said. “Fully 45% expressed strong support, while 30% somewhat support it. Just a small minority of 15% are opposed, with just 6% strongly opposed.”

“I searched for different attitudes among the demographic groups of Jewish society,” the pollster said. “Perhaps older people, who often show softer views on political issues in Israel – or who might remember the boat people – would express more compassion.”

(Between 1977 and 1979, Israel welcomed more than 300 Vietnamese “boat people” escaping the communist Hanoi regime.) “But here the data is even more striking.

Hardly any group within the Jewish population feels very differently. The wide majority supporting expulsion is highly consistent, no matter what their gender, age or socioeconomic status. The results were so consistent across demographic groups that we searched for technical errors. None were found.”

Only two demographic groups show minor variations. A larger percentage of haredim and national-religious respondents strongly support deportation: 61% and 55%, respectively. Only 38% of the secular respondents gave this response, and 18% of secular Jews oppose deportation – nearly twice the rate among the national-religious and three times as many as among the haredim.

People outside the Tel Aviv area also were slightly less supportive of the deportation plan, but not by much.

“The people in the Sharon and the North are more removed from the centers of migrant concentration. Perhaps they view the problem in a less emotional way,” Scheindlin said.

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