Intergroup hatred between Arab, religious-Jewish and haredi (ultra-Orthodox) youth is high, with nearly half of religious-Jewish youth supporting denying Arabs the right to vote, according to the 2021 Index for Shared Society Progress in Youth (ISSPY) published by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem's aChord Center last week.
The index is based on a survey conducted from May to July of 2020 among 1,091 teenage boys and girls between the ages of 16 and 18 in Israel's four education streams: secular-Jewish, religious-Jewish, haredi and Arab. The aChord Center specializes in social psychology of intergroup relations.
The report examines perceptions, feelings, attitudes and behaviors of teenagers in the context of intergroup partnership and the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on relations between the four groups.
The survey found that two-thirds (66%) of haredi youth expressed hatred against Arabs, as did 42% of religious-Jewish youth. A quarter (24%) of secular Jewish youth expressed hatred against Arabs and a similar number (23%) expressed hatred against haredim.
Among Arab youth, 22% expressed hatred against haredim, 22% expressed hatred against religious Jews and 12% expressed hatred against secular Jews.
The survey also found that many youth among the religious-Jewish (about 41%) and haredi sector (about 58%) hold stereotypical and negative views of Arabs, while half of Arab youth (50.5%) hold stereotypical and severely negative views of haredim. More than a third (35%) of secular youth expressed negative views of haredim.
The center expressed concern over findings that a relatively high percentage (49%) of religious-Jewish youth expressed support for denying Arabs the right to vote. The report additionally found that the less aware religious-Jewish youth were of anti-Arab discrimination, the more they supported denying Arabs the right to vote.
"It is possible that these phenomena reinforce each other - those who are unaware of discrimination against the Arab minority even support its extremism," wrote the researchers in the report.
RELIGIOUS-JEWISH and haredi youth also expressed less support for minority rights compared to other groups in the survey. The study also found that, amid the coronavirus outbreak, youth from all groups in Israeli society believed both that resources should not be equally allocated between the groups and that groups more heavily affected by the outbreak should not receive more assistance.These two youth groups supported allocating resources to the Arab sector considerably less than they supported allocating resources to Jewish groups, according to the report.
"It seems that the boys and girls of all groups are less supportive of providing assistance to groups that they perceive as the most threatening, perhaps as a kind of means of punishment," wrote the researchers in the ISSPY.
The study additionally found that religious-Jewish and haredi youth showed low willingness to be close with or improve relations with Arabs. The researchers described the desire and readiness of haredi youth to meet or interact with Arabs as "almost non-existent." While Arab youth expressed a higher level of readiness for closeness with Jewish groups than the Jewish groups expressed towards them, their desire for closeness with religious Jews and haredim was still very low.
Despite the relatively severe findings of the survey, the study did find some signs of improvement compared to prior years. Compared to previous years, Secular and religious Jews and Arabs expressed a higher level of readiness for closeness between the groups, and fewer secular and religious Jews and Arabs expressed negative and stereotypical views of other groups.The most impressive declines in reports of negative and stereotypical views of other groups was reported among Arab youth, especially concerning their views of religious Jews, according to the study.
THE ACHORD center stressed in a press release that the study's findings paint "a particularly difficult picture regarding the relationship between the minority groups in Israel, the difficult relationship that develops between them from such a young age, and the chance that schools can influence and change the situation."
"The particularly worrying data in the situation that emerges from the report include stereotypical perceptions and difficult feelings such as hatred towards some of the groups in Israeli society, little desire to maintain ties with these groups and support for discriminatory treatment towards them to the point of supporting their denial of basic rights," the researchers said.T"These findings are a wake-up call and a call to action for the Israeli education system, which is responsible for building the future of Israeli society," they said. "The serious findings that emerge from the report are intended to stimulate action for all those involved in education - from educators and school principals to the education departments in local authorities and the Education Ministry - and to motivate them to work intensively to promote education for partnership to which every student in the State of Israel will be exposed."
As a possible explanation for the tense relations between Arab and haredi youth, the researchers wrote that, "according to the research literature in the field of social psychology, isolated groups often work against other isolated groups to promote themselves and protect their image on their own."
The researchers also pointed to the fact that a "certain trend of improvement" was noticed in intergroup relations between youth in Israel, stating that "it seems that the issue needs to be further explored in order to understand in depth the various factors that promote these positive trends. The education system and all those involved in the craft have a duty to continue to work so that these positive processes will continue in the coming years."
The report presented a number of recommendations for teachers, administrators and anyone interested in promoting education for partnership in Israel, including promoting positive perceptions and feelings even towards the most remote social groups and encouraging partnership education, especially among those for whom engaging in the subject of partnership arouses greater opposition.
The researchers also called on the education system to implement a number of operations immediately, including appointing coordinators in each school to promote partnership education, building a regulated curriculum for partnership education, adjusting curricula in all subject to promote partnership and training for teachers.
"The emotional support provided by the school has positive implications not only for the student's personal well-being but also for the quality of interaction between groups at this time," wrote the researchers.
THE ISRAEL National Council for the Child called the findings of the study "worrying."
"It is important to remember that children and youth are not disconnected from the society in which they live, and they are nourished by what adults around them think," said the council. "The Education Ministry has an important role to play in promoting tolerance and partnership, and in promoting the right to mutual respect and equality, but the challenge lies not only in its development but also in the development of adult society in general, including policymakers and shapers of public opinion."
Imam Iyad Amer, principal of the Kfar Qassem Comprehensive School, was quoted by the report as stating that "the findings of the report teach us that without partnership education, it is impossible to survive - neither as a Jewish society nor as an Arab one."The school has been working for about four years with the aChord center and succeeded in creating noticeable improvements in intergroup attitudes among students and faculty.
Rabbi Pinchas, principal of the Zivia Lod School, was quoted as stating that "the report teaches us that every stream of education has different characteristics, and this should be addressed when building a curriculum for partnership education. Areas that are groundbreaking require a lot of guidance, and the field of partnership education is a groundbreaking topic today, which is not sufficiently engaged in."
This is the first year that the report is being published for the general public. In the past, it was presented to the president of Israel as part of the Israeli Hope in Education project of the President's Office, the Education Ministry and the Lautman Forum.
The full ISSPY report will be published on Tuesday during a conference with President Reuven Rivlin at 10 a.m.