Alia Tunisi adjusts the skullcap of a student, Hand in Hand Arab Jewish bilingual school, Jerusalem, 2014..
(photo credit: RONEN ZVULUN/REUTERS)
The majority of Israeli citizens believe there are positive relations between the country’s Jewish and Arab populations, according to a survey published Thursday by online magazine Sicha Mekomit (Local Call).
Fifty-three percent of Jewish respondents said that day-to-day relations between Jews and Arabs are largely positive, with one-third testifying to negative relationships based on personal experiences. Just 13% said they did not have enough contact with the Arab population to answer.
Some 76% of Arab respondents said that, in their daily lives, relations between Jews and Arabs are largely positive. Only 6% said they did not have sufficient contact with the other population group to answer.
The pre-elections survey, led by Dr. Dahlia Scheindlin and David Reis, revealed that the majority of Jews and Arabs believe cooperation between the two populations can advance various goals, including environmental protection, workers’ rights and women’s rights.
Across all subjects, 55-58% of respondents said that Jewish-Arab cooperation would contribute to advancing the issues, and only 10-14% thought it would prove harmful. Among Arab respondents, 72% said cooperation would be helpful, compared to 54% of Jewish respondents.
Looking toward Tuesday’s Knesset elections, almost half of the Arab respondents (47%) said they would be willing to vote for a Jewish party if it reflected their views, significantly greater than the 15% of Arab voters who backed non-Arab parties in the 2015 elections.
Only 4% of Jewish respondents, however, expressed their willingness to vote for an Arab party. Some 88% said they rejected the idea.
While Arab parties have never joined a coalition government, 87% of Arab respondents said they favored to some extent an Arab party joining the government. Only 4% of Arabs rejected the idea. Among Jewish respondents, however, only 35% said an Arab party joining the government would be acceptable to some degree.
When Arab respondents were asked whether they recognized a Jewish people alongside the Palestinian people, a sweeping 94% of Arabs answered approvingly and only 6% said there was only a Palestinian people.
Among Jewish respondents, 52% acknowledged the existence of a Palestinian people while 48% said there is only a Jewish people.
“Judging from the current Israeli election cycle and the various campaigns competing, it would be easy to conclude that Arab and Jewish citizens of Israel have completely failed to build a shared life together,” wrote Scheindlin.
“The campaigns are filled with insulting and racist messaging that is being disseminated every which way. It’s a shame that Israeli leaders aren’t more attentive to the majority of the country’s citizens, who support values of cooperation, believe that relations between Jews and Arabs in the country are already good, and acknowledge the national identity of the other — the Jewish and Palestinian peoples, respectively.”
The survey also asked Arab respondents how they defined themselves. Almost half (46%) self-defined as Arab-Israelis, 22% said they were Arabs, 19% said they were Palestinian-Israelis and 14% defined themselves as only Palestinian.
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