'62.5% of Israeli Arabs see Jews as foreign imprint'

U. of Haifa study shows deepening Jewish-Arab divide over past decade; 37% of Arabs don’t believe millions died in Holocaust.

May 19, 2011 17:45
2 minute read.
Nakba Day protest in Jaffa

Jaffa Nakba Day 311. (photo credit: Ben Hartman)


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Over 62 percent of the Arab citizens of Israel believe Jews are a foreign imprint on the Middle East and are destined to be replaced by Palestinians, and a similar proportion believe that Israel has no right to exist as a Jewish state, according to a nationwide survey scheduled for release on Sunday.

The 2010 Arab Jewish Relations Survey, compiled by Prof. Sami Smoocha in collaboration with the Jewish-Arab Center at the University of Haifa, presents what its authors describe as a worrying decline in relations between Jews and Arabs in Israel over the past decade.

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The survey found that the percentage of Arab Israelis who believe cash compensation and settlement in a Palestinian state are an alternative solution to the right of return dropped from 72.2% in 2003 to 40% in 2010. Also, the percentage supporting the use of violence to advance Arab causes climbed from 6% in 1995 to 11.5% in 2010.

The survey was compiled from 711 face-to-face interviews with Arab citizens of Israel over the age of 18, and 700 telephone interviews in Hebrew and Russian conducted with Jewish Israelis.

Among Arabs, 71% said they blamed Jews for the hardships suffered by Palestinians during and after the “Nakba” in 1948. The survey also found that the percentage of Arabs taking part in “Nakba Day” commemorations rose from 12.9% in 2003 to 36.1% in 2010. In addition, 37.8% of Arabs polled in the survey said they didn’t believe that millions of Jews had been the victims of a campaign of genocide waged by Nazi Germany.

Among Jewish respondents, 57.7% said they didn’t believe that a disaster of any sort happened to the Palestinians in 1948, and 68.1% expressed their opposition to public Nakba commemorations.

Also, 66.8% said the Palestinians bore the blunt of the blame for the continued conflict between Jews and Arabs.

Among Jewish respondents, 32.6% said they supported a cancellation of the voting rights of Arab citizens, and 16.5% said they were against the rights of an Arab minority to live in Israel.

Prof. Itzchak Weismann, head of the Jewish-Arab Center, said on Thursday that “the deterioration in relations [between Jews and Arabs in Israel] is linked to laws the government recently legislated and the strengthening of radical religious figures on both sides.”

Nevertheless, he said he was surprised to see “how strong the desire is for coexistence in spite of the events of recent years.”

Smoocha said that despite the serious rift, “there is agreement between the majority of Jews and Arabs about living in Israel, and there is still the infrastructure for a shared society.”

He also said that with worsening relations, there is a growing need for the government and NGOs to bridge gaps between the two populations.

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