Study: 64% of Israeli Jews won't enter Arab towns

More than half of Israel's Jewish and Arab populations believe relations between the two communities likely to deteriorate.

arabs 88 (photo credit: )
arabs 88
(photo credit: )
More than half of Israel's Jewish and Arab populations believe that the two communities are not on good terms and that relations are likely to deteriorate in the future, according to the annual Arab-Jewish Relations Index for 2007. The study was published by Professor Sami Sooha, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Haifa on Monday, one day ahead of the second Haifa Conference on Social Responsibility set to take place at the university on Tuesday and Wednesday. According to the index, which assesses Jewish-Arab relations in Israel, 62 percent of the Jewish public expressed concerns that the local Arab population would eventually engage in civil disobedience, with 64% saying they refused to enter Arab towns. The index also revealed that the Arab public has their own suspicions towards the Jews here. A total of 62% said they were worried about eventually being transferred and 76% said they believed that the state could one day sponsor violence against them. "The index exposes the dimensions of the deep rift between Arabs and Jews," commented Sooha, who used a representative sample of roughly 700 Arabs and Jewish citizens. "In order to narrow this divide, there is a need to settle the Palestinian question and to find a balance between the Jewish and democratic characters of the state." However, he added: "Looking at it all in perspective and in comparison to surveys conducted over the years, it is important to note that there isn't a trend towards extremism in the attitudes of the Arab population or entrenchment among the Jewish public." Despite the negative feelings expressed by both sides, the majority of the Jewish population (86%) and 75% of the Arabs said they believe Israel is a good place to live, with 85% of Jews and 71% of the Arabs saying they prefer Israel over any other nation in the world. A total of 58% of the Arab public believes that Israel is democratic enough for them, too. In terms of trusting the other side, less than half (48%) of the Jewish public said it does not trust Arab citizens, while 60.2% of the Arab public feels the same way about Jewish citizens. Slightly over a third (37%) of the Jews said they believe in encouraging Arabs to leave Israel and a further one third supported stripping them of their voting rights. The poll found 18% of the Jewish public deny the right of existence to the Arabs as a minority in Israel, compared to 16% last year. The study also shows that 62% of the Jewish public believe Arab citizens to be a risk to national security because of their high birth rate and 80% are suspicious of Israeli Arab support for the Palestinian national struggle. A total of 80% of the Arabs fear that their civil rights may be harmed and 83% are worried about major land expropriation. As for the Arab sentiment, the percentage of those that deny Israel's right to exist as a Jewish-Zionist state rose slightly from 62.6% last year to 64% this year, as did the percentage of Arabs who deny Israel's right to exist (from 15% last year to 20% this year). Support for the use of violence to advance the interests of the Arab minority also rose from 9.5% to 10.8% this year. Full results from the index will be presented at this week's conference, which include speakers such as Minister for Welfare and Social Services Isaac Herzog, Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit, State Comptroller Justice Micha Lindenstrauss, Retired Supreme Court Judge Dalia Dorner and MK Amir Peretz. Entitled "Whose Responsibility is it?" the various panels will examine the relationship between the private, public and volunteer sectors in Israel.