By Maurice Ostroff
Believe it or not, contrary to recent sensational headlines, if the highly publicized poll on purported apartheid in Israel is examined objectively, Israelis can be proud of the results. Directly contradicting the distorted interpretation by columnist Gideon Levy in Haaretz, an objective analysis of the results of the poll reveals that the great majority of Israelis are not racists and that the level of racism in Israel is lower than in most democratic Western countries.
Racial prejudice in Europe has manifested prominently against the Romani Gypsies. The City of Copenhagen deported up to 400 Roma and Swedish police expelled Roma in breach of its own and EU laws. In Belgium a caravan of 700 Roma was chased out of Flanders. Italy and Germany have evicted thousands.
Prejudice against Muslims, Blacks and Jews is rife. According to a Pew poll published in July 2010, 82% in France, 71% in Germany and 62% in Britain are in favor of prohibiting the Burqua. The poll conducted from April 7 to May 8, interviewed 24,790 people in 22 countries.
An Amnesty International study published in 2012 titled "Choice and prejudice - discrimination against Muslims in Europe" reported that opinion polls in several European countries reflect fear, suspicion and negative opinions of Muslims combined with racist attitudes. It documents discriminatory experiences faced by Muslim pupils and students stemming from laws or policies forbidding the wearing of religious symbols or dress. Belgium and France for example, have introduced a general ban on religious symbols in public schools. In Spain individual schools have at times enforced internal regulations prohibiting headwear, which resulted in the exclusion from class of Muslim pupils wearing the headscarf.
In Spain (Catalonia), local authorities have denied authorization to open new Muslim prayer rooms merely because local inhabitants opposed the establishment of a mosque in their neighborhood.
A Maurice de Hond poll published by the center-right newspaper Trouw on June 19 revealed that 74 percent of Dutch voters say immigrants should conform to Dutch values and 83 percent of those polled support a ban on burqas in public spaces.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said multiculturalism has totally failed in Germany. We feel tied to Christian values. Those who don''t accept them don''t have a place here. Her views were echoed by British PM David Cameron and former French President Sarkozy. According to Forbes
"Openly racist, anti-immigrant and Islamophobic groupings are on the rise, and they are wreaking havoc on once subdued European politics. Traditional mainstream parties are declining, and the new racist parties can be seen in broad daylight in Austria, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands, where populist firebrand Geert Wilders has suggested banning the Koran. In Italy the anti-immigrant Northern League is already hugely powerful". Forbes also reported "unemployment among immigrants in France particularly from Muslim countries is often twice that of the native born; in Britain Muslims are far more likely to be unemployed than Christians or Hindus".
(Forbes web site "Who''s Racist Now? Europe''s Increasing Intolerance" October 18, 2010)
So much for Western states. What of Arab countries? Doha News recently carried the headline "Most Khaleejis uncomfortable with non-Muslim neighbors". It summarized a report titled " Progress and Tradition in the Gulf Cooperation Council States" that surveyed thousands of Khaleejis in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain, revealing that 74% of Qataris surveyed would object to a non-Muslim neighbor.
An analogous question in the Israeli poll asked if interviewees would be bothered if an Arab family moved into the same building. The sample used in the poll comprised 60 Ultraorthodox Jews (12%), 57 Orthodox (12%), 143 Traditional (29%), 235 secular (47%) and 8 who did not respondBy sharp contrast to the 74% of Qataris who object to non-Muslim neighbors and the 70% to 80% of racist answers in the European polls, only 32% of the secular Jews who comprise the largest group in the country object to an Arab neighbor and only 47% of the total sample including the religious interviewees would object.
And Israel has no laws similar to Switzerland''s national ban on the construction of minarets which has undermined that country''s reputation for religious tolerance.
In light of the above there is every reason to believe that Israel would score very favorably on an objective international scale comparing degrees of racism in democratic countries.