Poll: Foreign workers threaten Israel's Jewish character

Over half of Israelis want government to toughen entry restrictions on foreign workers, but not to deport them.

311_foreign workers' kids (photo credit: Ariel Schalit/AP)
311_foreign workers' kids
(photo credit: Ariel Schalit/AP)
More than half of the public feels that foreign workers pose a threat to the Jewish character of the country, according to a study released on Thursday.
The report, which was carried out by the Ruppin Academic Center’s Institute for Immigration and Social Integration, also found that 56 percent of Israelis want the government to toughen entry restrictions on foreign workers.
'Jews now a minority between the River and the Sea'
Court delays deportation of 12 foreign workers' children
In regard to the deportation of the children of foreign workers, 40% of respondents said they felt the policy is inhumane.
The percentage of Israelis who said they support the deportations is higher among the haredi population and right-wing Israelis, at 58% and 45%, respectively.
The researchers surveyed 500 Israeli adults from across the country, who scored the social and economic threat faced by foreign workers as 4.3 on a scale of 1 to 7.
The figure shows a marked increase from a similar poll held in 1999, in which Israelis ranked the threat 2.4 on a scale of 1 to 7.
The study also found that 60% of the public supports giving certain rights or recognition to foreign workers.
According to figures released by the Central Bureau of Statistics in July, there were 220,000 foreign workers living in Israel at the end of 2009.
Of those, 101,500 – or 46% – were in Israel illegally. In 2009, 27,000 foreigners entered Israel with work permits, 4,000 fewer than the year before and the lowest number since 2004. The largest group of foreign workers were from Thailand, at 5,600, or 21% of all 2009 entries. Most Thai workers in Israel are employed in agriculture.