About half of Israeli Jews want to expel Arabs, poll finds

Alarming survey released by Washington-based research center shows desire among nearly half of Israeli Jews to expel Arabs from Israel

Photo by: AP (Archive )
Photo by: AP (Archive )

Palestinian men angered after Israeli soldiers demolish tin shacks, animal shelters, tents and water wells in Aqraba village, near the settlement of Itamar, Nablus, West Bank, Oct. 29, 2013.

Nearly half of Israeli Jews believe Arabs should be expelled or transferred from Israel, a new poll released on Tuesday by the Washington-based Pew Research Center, a non-partisan think tank, showed.

The survey conducted on the religious and political views of Jewish religious and secular communities also found that many Israelis - Jews and Arabs - appeared to have lost hope for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The research center asked numerous people if Arabs - who make up 19 percent of Israel's population of 8.4 million - should be expelled or transferred from the country.  

Forty-eight percent of Israeli Jews said they agreed with the statement.

While 54 to 71 percent of Jews who defined themselves as ultra-Orthodox, religious or "traditional" supported such a step, only about 36 percent of the secular community did.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said the poll was a "wake-up call for society" and asked for "soul searching and moral reflection" over some of its troublesome findings.

According to the poll, 89 percent of Israel's secular Jews want democratic principles to outweigh Jewish ritual law when the two clash. An identical percentage of ultra-Orthodox Jews take the opposite view.

"A further problem is the attitude toward Israel's Arab citizens," said Rivlin.

About 8 in 10 Arabs complained of heavy discrimination in Israeli society against Muslims, the largest religious minority, while 79 percent of Jews questioned said Jewish citizens deserved preferential treatment.

In the poll, 9 percent of Jews identified themselves as ultra-Orthodox, 13 percent as religious, 29 percent as 'traditional' and 49 percent as secular.

It found devout Jews largely lean to the right politically, while secular Jews mainly see themselves as centrists.

Among the many divides on social and religious issues, the vast majority of ultra-Orthodox and religious Jews supported a long-standing shutdown of most public transportation on the Jewish Sabbath, while 94 percent of secular Jews took the opposite view.

Most secular Jews saw themselves as "Israelis first," while 91 percent of ultra-Orthodox and 80 percent of religious Jews in general said they were "Jews first."

About 40 percent of Israeli Jews believe a way can be found for Israel to co-exist with a future Palestine, while a similar percentage believe this is not possible, according to the poll.

Among the Arab population about half saw such co-existence as possible, compared with 74 percent in 2013.

Another striking finding was that 42 percent of Israeli Jews said Jewish settlements - built on lands occupied by Israel since the 1967 six-day war - helped Israel’s security, while 63 percent of Israeli Arabs said Jewish settlements hurt Israel's security.

Approximately 400,000 Jewish settlers live in the West Bank in settlements that are largely condemned as being illegal by the international community, which sees settlement building as undermining international efforts to reach a two-state solution.

The researchers conducted 5,601 face-to-face interviews with 3,789 Jews, 871 Muslims, 468 Christians and 439 Druze in Israel from October 2014 to May 2015.

TRTWorld and agencies