Israelis Want Apartheid- Are You Out of Your Mind?!?

On October 23rd, Gideon Levi of Haaretz wrote an article headed “Most Israelis support an apartheid regime in Israel”, based on a survey conducted recently among Israelis. The article, which grossly skewed the findings of the said survey, quickly became the source for articles world-wide. Not only do the Israelis continue to support the “occupation” but they also actually want to be an apartheid regime? This was too good to be true for many journalists who don’t exactly support Israel.

 The exciting news was copied by leading news-sites such as the British Independent, the Guardian, the Telegraph, the Canadian The Globe and Mail (to be fair, this paper actually questioned what they were fed by Haaretz) and other sites. The most virulent version I have seen so far is the one in the Lebanese Al-Akhbar, which actually added some of its own “facts” to the article, which, as my readers will see soon, have no basis in the original survey. Here is a lovely quote:

 “The survey signals fresh Israeli acceptance of the term “apartheid”, previously rejected by the Jewish public though previous polls have also shown a preference for discriminatory behavior against Palestinians.”

 And here’s another:

 “”The only thing shocking about the poll was people’s response to the term ‘apartheid’ . . . research I have done over the years indicates in general Israelis support certain kinds of discriminatory behavior but they reject the term apartheid,” Tel Aviv-based public opinion analyst Dahlia Scheindlin told the Sydney Morning Herald.”

Here is a link to the article in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Ben-Dror Yemini of Maariv wrote a seething but detailed response to the original article in Haaretz. The link above leads to the English translation of Yemini’s response. He goes into great detail and I highly recommend reading it.

Following the extreme criticism, Haaretz has since re-titled the article “Survey: Most Israeli Jews wouldn’t give Palestinians vote if West Bank was annexed”, and added this clarification:

 CLARIFICATION: The original headline for this piece, ‘Most Israelis support an apartheid regime in Israel,’ did not accurately reflect the findings of the Dialog poll. The question to which most respondents answered in the negative did not relate to the current situation, but to a hypothetical situation in the future: ‘If Israel annexes territories in Judea and Samaria, should 2.5 million Palestinians…

However, the damage has already been done. To anyone reading The Guardian, The Independent, The Telegraph, The Sydney Morning Herald or Al-Akhbar, I am a filthy Arab-hating racist, and so are most of the people I know.

Ben-Dror Yemini included a link to the original survey in his Hebrew-language column, and all I can do is to translate it and post it here, so that you may read the real questions and the real results of the survey. I have also added my remarks to some of the questions.

I would also like to point out that when polling in Israel, it is customary to differentiate between different religious classes (Ultra-Orthodox, Orthodox, Traditional and Secular), because these are distinct communities (you may read more about Jewish religious groups in Israel in my post Judaism in Israel: Diversity and Collectivism). For some reason, this survey included a fifth category of “Russian” (over 1 million Israeli Jews are of Russian origin, many of whom arrived in Israel following the crumbling of the Soviet Union), which, in my eyes, points to racist views held by the pollster.

Also, I have no way of checking the methods used by the pollster, however, the complete lack of “Don’t knows” among the Ultra Orthodox participants in many of the questions raises suspicions in regard to the composition of the sample population.

 So without further delay, here is the original survey:

[link to the original survey- in window at the bottom of the page]

1.      In general, are you satisfied or unsatisfied with life in Israel?

Total

Secular

Traditional

Orthodox

Ultra Orthodox

Russian

Satisfied

Unsatisfied

Don’t know

69%

27%

4%

63%

33%

4%

69%

26%

4%

76%

18%

6%

70%

26%

4%

77%

19%

4%

2.      In your opinion, is there or is there not discrimination against new immigrants with regard to acceptance to work in government offices?

Total

Secular

Traditional

Orthodox

Ultra Orthodox

Russian

There is discrimination

There isn’t discrimination

Don’t know

39%

35%

26%

41%

30%

29%

36%

48%

16%

48%

28%

24%

37%

30%

33%

39%

32%

29%

3. In your opinion, is there or isn’t there discrimination against Arabs with regard to acceptance to work in government offices?

Total

Secular

Traditional

Orthodox

Ultra Orthodox

Russian

There is discrimination

There isn’t discrimination

Don’t know

50%

29%

21%

60%

21%

19%

53%

36%

11%

48%

30%

22%

21%

57%

21%

47%

15%

38%

·        My comment– so far these are questions of perception, and have nothing to do with what the situation is in reality.

4. In your opinion, should Jews be preferred over Arabs with regard to acceptance to workplaces in government offices?

Total

Secular

Traditional

Orthodox

Ultra Orthodox

Russian

They should

They shouldn’t

Don’t know

59%

34%

7%

40%

50%

10%

65%

28%

7%

70%

26%

4%

95%

5%

59%

34%

7%

·        My comment– This finding in itself is disturbing. However, the public sentiment expressed here is not the one currently in practice. In fact, there are many jobs in the public sector which are set aside for members of the Arab minority.

5. In your opinion, should new immigrants be barred from voting for the Knesset in their first year in the country?

Total

Secular

Traditional

Orthodox

Ultra Orthodox

Russian

They should

They shouldn’t

Don’t know

41%

53%

6%

37%

57%

6%

48%

49%

3%

32%

62%

6%

56%

37%

7%

36%

55%

8%

6. In your opinion, should there be legislation to bar Israeli Arabs from voting for the Knesset?

Total

Secular

Traditional

Orthodox

Ultra Orthodox

Russian

There should

There shouldn’t

Don’t know

33%

59%

8%

18%

77%

5%

43%

51%

6%

52%

44%

4%

70%

18%

13%

7%

77%

16%

·        My comments– This too is a disturbing finding. However, I believe this has nothing to do with racism, and a lot to do with the feeling that the Israeli-Arab population in Israel acts as a fifth column. Israeli Arabs do in fact have completely equal rights in this area, and quite often, the Israeli-Arab Members of Knesset have proven that they do not see themselves as representing citizens of Israel, but rather as representatives of the Palestinian people who are at war with Israel. Examples include Azmi Bishara, who fled the country after he was caught passing information to the terrorist organization Hizballah in Lebanon during the 2006 Lebanon War; Ahmed Tibi, who made a speech earlier this year praising suicide bombers; and Hanin Zuabi who took part in the Mavi Marmara flotilla in which Israeli soldiers were beaten by not-so-peaceful “peace” activists headed for Gaza. I have yet to write a post on the relations between Jews and Arabs in Israel, but I believe it is due…

As for the higher percentage of people in favor of barring the vote from Israeli Arabs among the Orthodox and Ultra-Orthodox communities, I may point out that the Orthodox community, being the largest group living in the Israeli settlements, and thus in closer proximity, and with greater friction with the Palestinian population, naturally have less-friendly feelings toward the Arab population. As for the Ultra-Orthodox, they also oppose women’s right to vote and most of them do not support the values of democracy, so opposing the right of Arabs to vote should come as no surprise.

7. Do you agree or disagree with the claim that the state should care more for its Jewish citizens than for its Arab citizens?

Total

Secular

Traditional

Orthodox

Ultra Orthodox

Russian

Agree

Disagree

Don’t know

49%

49%

2%

31%

67%

2%

52%

46%

1%

62%

34%

4%

82%

18%

50%

49%

1%

8. Would it bother you if where you live, for instance, in the same building, there was also an Arab family?

Total

Secular

Traditional

Orthodox

Ultra Orthodox

Russian

It would bother me

It wouldn’t

Don’t know

42%

53%

5%

27%

68%

5%

50%

47%

2%

62%

34%

4%

79%

20%

2%

24%

66%

5%

·        My comment- For most Israelis this is a hypothetical question. Almost all Jews and Arabs live in separate towns, as they have lived since before the state was founded, with the exception of a number of mixed towns, which have been mixed since before the state was founded (such as Haifa, Jerusalem, Jaffa, Acre, Ramle and Lod). My previous comment regarding issues of insecurity in the face of a potentially hostile neighbor stands here as well. With regard to the Ultra-Orthodox community, one must note that most of this community lives separately from other Jewish communities as well, and would be opposed to anyone who is not Ultra-Orthodox living in their neighborhood. This is not due to racism, but rather because of their wish to remain closed to and unaffected by the outside world.

9. Would it bother you if in one of your children’s classes in school there were also Arab students?

Total

Secular

Traditional

Orthodox

Ultra Orthodox

Russian

It would bother me

It wouldn’t bother me

I do not have children in school

Don’t know

42%

49%

6%

3%

21%

73%

3%

3%

45%

45%

7%

4%

68%

24%

6%

2%

88%

11%

2%

28%

54%

11%

6%

·        My comment– This is yet another impractical question, because Jewish schools and Arab schools have different curricula when it comes to religious studies. Orthodox and Ultra Orthodox schools have many weekly hours dedicated to Talmud and Bible study. The question also ignores the language barrier (Hebrew vs. Arabic). As in question 8, Ultra Orthodox would be opposed to exposing their children to anyone who is not Ultra-Orthodox.

10.  A known American author has boycotted Israel because she claims it practices apartheid. What of the following is closest to your views: She should be boycotted; there is no need to respond; she should be invited to visit Israel?

Total

Secular

Traditional

Orthodox

Ultra Orthodox

Russian

Boycott her

Do not respond

Invite her to visit

Don’t know

15%

28%

48%

9%

10%

23%

61%

6%

17%

29%

43%

11%

14%

41%

33%

12%

32%

32%

30%

5%

8%

27%

52%

13%

·        My comment– This seems to be the only question which could possibly have been used to indicate the “acceptance” of the term “apartheid” by Israelis, which was mentioned in the article by Al-Akhbar. However none of the responses actually indicate anything of the sort. It would seem to me that the various options indicate different types of anger management. Some would rather boycott the author who boycotts us, in an “eye for an eye” fashion, some would just ignore her as being inconsequential and some would attempt to invite her to Israel to see for herself the error of her ways. None of these responses can be portrayed as “acceptance” of the claim that Israel practices apartheid.

11.  According to the American author’s claim, that there is apartheid in Israel, which of the following is closest to your views: There is no apartheid in Israel at all; there is apartheid in some issues; there is apartheid in many issues?

Total

Secular

Traditional

Orthodox

Ultra Orthodox

Russian

No apartheid at all

Apartheid in some issues

Apartheid in many issues

Don’t know

31%

39%

19%

11%

28%

38%

24%

9%

30%

38%

16%

16%

27%

41%

16%

16%

28%

49%

23%

35%

40%

16%

9%

·        My comment– Firstly, the beginning of this document in Hebrew includes an explanation of an index which was compiled from the answers to these questions. In it, the word apartheid is almost always followed by the words “or segregation” in parenthesis. I did not translate this part of the document, because it has no bearing on the questions themselves, but I suspect that the extremely-negative term “apartheid” was not always used, or was not used at all, when asking the questions, and was substituted for the neutral term “segregation” (“Hafrada” in Hebrew; there is no Hebrew word for apartheid).

I believe the distinction has significance. The word apartheid is not in common use in Hebrew and holds extremely negative connotations, and it is therefore unlikely that such a high percentage of Israelis would feel comfortable using it to describe their own country, while the word “Hafrada” is neutral and can also mean “separation”. Either way, it is important to point out that Jews and Arabs live almost completely separately in Israel, and therefore the response to this question should come as no surprise. The fact that so many people seem to see this as a problem, if in fact the term “apartheid” was used, is indication of guilty feelings and of a wish to rectify a less-than-perfect situation (which admittedly exists, but is very far from apartheid). I would also like to point out that South-African history is not taught in Israeli schools, so that the exact meaning of the term “apartheid” is not well known to Israelis, as Ben-Dror Yemini pointed out in his response.

12.  In your opinion, was the boycott against South Africa the cause of the end of apartheid?

Total

Secular

Traditional

Orthodox

Ultra Orthodox

Russian

Definitely

Probably it was

Probably it wasn’t

Of course it wasn’t

Don’t know

10%

26%

17%

17%

30%

9%

28%

21%

19%

23%

8%

25%

17%

19%

31%

2%

27%

12%

16%

43%

9%

36%

16%

13%

27%

15%

17%

17%

13%

38%

·        My comment– The high percentage of “Don’t know” in this question is in line with Israelis’ scant knowledge of South African history.

A number of questions regarding the territories [= the West Bank/ Judea and Samaria] and the Palestinians

 13.  Do you or do you not want Israel to annex all of the territories in which there are settlements?

Total

Secular

Traditional

Orthodox

Ultra Orthodox

Russian

Annex

Do not annex

Don’t know

38%

48%

14%

31%

57%

12%

45%

45%

9%

51%

35%

14%

53%

40%

7%

24%

52%

24%

·        My comment– This question is vague. Later on it is used to claim that Israelis want to annex 2.5 million Palestinians without giving them voting rights. First, the question clearly stated “territories in which there are settlements”, which does not equal “territories in which there are Palestinian settlements”. Last year, Naftali Bennet, who is competing in the primaries for Habayit Hayehudi, the party representing the National Orthodox community and much of the settlements, proposed a plan to annex the lands which are in area C. Area C means lands which are under full Israeli control. The population in area C includes approximately 342,000 Jews and 50,000 Palestinians. Bennet proposed giving full rights to those 50,000 Palestinians, just like Israeli Arabs. The remaining 2.5 million Palestinians live in Area A (full Palestinian control) and Area B (Palestinian civil control and Israeli security control). There are no Jews living in Areas B and A.

It should also be pointed out that the main claim of the Israeli Left in favor of the two-state solution is that if Israel were to annex 2.5 million Palestinians, Israel would cease to be a nation-state for the Jewish people, which is a main concern for all Jews around the world. Jews have only one nation state, while Arabs currently have 22 nation states. There is nothing wrong with wanting to have a nation state. Israel was founded as the Jewish homeland and was never intended otherwise. A Jewish nation state is the only place where Judaism can be practiced freely and where Jews can be truly and completely free of anti-Semitism. This reasoning explains the responses in questions 14-16 as well.

14.  Are you in favor of or against a “Transfer”, i.e. transferring some of the Israeli Arabs to the Palestinian Authority?

Total

Secular

Traditional

Orthodox

Ultra Orthodox

Russian

For

Against

Don’t know

47%

40%

13%

40%

52%

8%

47%

36%

17%

52%

30%

18%

71%

27%

2%

40%

39%

22%

15.  In return for keeping some of the settlements under Israeli rule, do you support handing over to the Palestinian Authority parts of the State of Israel in which there are only Arabs?

Total

Secular

Traditional

Orthodox

Ultra Orthodox

Russian

Support

Against

Don’t know

36%

48%

16%

48%

41%

11%

34%

55%

11%

34%

56%

10%

25%

65%

11%

29%

35%

35%

16.  If Israel was to annex Judea and Samaria, in your opinion, should 2.5 million Palestinians be given the right to vote for the Knesset?

Total

Secular

Traditional

Orthodox

Ultra Orthodox

Russian

They should vote

Should not vote

Don’t know

19%

69%
12%

26%

62%

12%

15%

74%

10%

14%

80%

6%

14%

84%

2%

15%

60%

26%

·        My comment– As I stated earlier, the option of annexing all of Areas A and B is not even on the table, precisely because Israel does NOT want to face the terrible choice of losing its identity as the Jewish State or becoming an apartheid state.

17.  In the territories [= The West Bank/Judea and Samaria] there are some roads on which only Israelis are allowed to drive and others on which only Palestinians may drive. What of the following is closest to your opinion: This is a good situation; this is not a good situation, but there is nothing to be done about it; this is not a good situation and it should end? 

Total

Secular

Traditional

Orthodox

Ultra Orthodox

Russian

A good situation

A Bad situation, but no alternative

A Bad situation and it should end

Don’t know

24%

50%

17%

9%

17%

57%

21%

9%

27%

50%

15%

9%

34%

44%

18%

4%

38%

45%

16%

2%

16%

52%

11%

21%

·        My comment– This question is misleading, because of the reasons why there are ‘separate’ roads. This has nothing to do with racism and is quite far from the separate benches in parks for Whites and Blacks in the United States in the early 1900s.

First, as I have already mentioned, Judea and Samaria are divided up into 3 sections, as part of the Oslo accords. Area C is the only section in which Israeli citizens are allowed to move freely. It is a criminal offense for Israelis to enter Areas A or B, as well as a death-wish on their part. Palestinians may enter area C, but might have to pass through checkpoints along the way. The checkpoints exist for security reasons, in order to thwart attempts of terrorism. Just last week a Palestinian was caught at one of these checkpoints attempting to smuggle 8 pipe bombs from Nablus into Jerusalem, where they would have been used to kill innocent civilians.

Second, there are a number of roads that were made in order to safeguard the Jewish population, following numerous attacks in which Palestinian cars opened fire on Jewish civilian cars. Almost any Jew living in the settlements personally knows someone who was hurt or murdered in this fashion. These attacks, as well as stone throwing at passing cars continue almost daily, but are rarely reported on the news (stone-throwing at moving cars can also be fatal). Therefore, it is not surprising that the majority answered that this is not a good situation, but that there is nothing to be done about it. These roads save lives.

Apartheid? Against who?

In conclusion, Jews and Arabs in Israel are still trying to find their place in relation to each other. The Arab population in Israel started out as being at war with the Jewish population. Most Arab villages joined with the forces bent on destroying the Jewish state in the Israeli War of Independence in 1948. These are wounds that take time to heal. Arabs and Jews alike are still trying to decide whether the Arabs are part of Israeli society, or rather part of the Palestinian society. Formally, Arab citizens of Israel have full and equal rights, even though there are still a lot of bad feelings and there may be informal instances of discrimination. Let us not forget, Palestinian Arabs have more rights in Israel than they do in any Arab country, including the Palestinian Authority.

Ben-Dror Yemini quoted surveys conducted in Europe, of attitudes toward Muslim immigrants. These surveys are far less flattering than the survey here, even though a state of war does not exist between Europeans and Muslim immigrants. Israel has been at war with the Palestinians for over 64 years, since before Israel was founded, and yet there are still many voices in Israel that call for upholding the full rights that Palestinians living in Israel enjoy. That should be the headline of the article.

As for Gideon Levi and Haaretz, there are some journalists who will write anything for a headline, without thinking about the consequences and of how it will be portrayed elsewhere in the world. What worries me even more is that there are some journalists who will write anything for a headline because of the consequences and because they know how it will be portrayed elsewhere in the world. Many of the negative articles published worldwide these days originate in Haaretz. My general advice to you would be- question what you read.

.

 And in case you were wondering, here are the answers I would have given if I had been included in the survey:

1.      In general, are you satisfied are not satisfied with life in Israel?

Satisfied.

2.      In your opinion, is there or is there not discrimination against new immigrants with regard to acceptance to work in government offices?

I don’t know, but I have met new immigrants who have told me that they had a hard time finding jobs because of the language barrier.

3.      In your opinion, is there or isn’t there discrimination against Arabs with regard to acceptance to work in government offices?

Formally, there is no discrimination. Informally, there probably is some amount of discrimination. However, many posts have been marked specifically for Arabs in order to rectify a less-than perfect situation (affirmative action).

4.      In your opinion, should Jews get preference over Arabs with regard to acceptance to workplaces in government offices?

No, definitely not. Jobs should be given to those who are best suited to them, regardless of their nationality.

5.      In your opinion, should new immigrants be barred from voting for the Knesset in their first year in the country?

No. But if someone feels s/he does not know enough about the candidates running in the elections, s/he should be responsible enough to do the necessary research before voting.

6.      In your opinion, should there be legislation to bar Israeli Arabs from voting for the Knesset?

No.

7.      Do you agree or disagree with the claim that the state should care more for its Jewish citizens than for its Arab citizens?

I disagree. Arab citizens should receive the same civil rights as Jewish citizens. Ben-Gurion put it well: “As individuals [they should receive] everything. As a collective [they should receive] nothing”, meaning that Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people, and of the Jewish people only. But anyone living in Israel deserves to be treated equally, whether s/he is Jewish or Arab.

8.      Would it bother you if where you live, for instance, in the same building, there was also an Arab family?

No.

9.      Would it bother you if in one of your children’s classes in school there were also Arab students?

When I have children, they will go to a Jewish Orthodox school, which by definition includes only Jewish Orthodox children. I have no problem with them going to college/university with Arab students, as I have.

10.  A known American author has boycotted Israel because she claims it practices apartheid. What of the following is closest to your views: She should be boycotted; There is no need to respond; She should be invited to visit Israel?

I would invite her to see for herself that there is no apartheid in Israel.

11.  According to the American author’s claim, that there is apartheid in Israel, which of the following is closest to your views: There is no apartheid in Israel at all; there is apartheid in some issues; there is apartheid in many issues?

No. There is no “apartheid” in Israel in any issue. There is a level of discrimination, which is undesirable, but understandable under the circumstances.

12.  In your opinion, was the boycott against South Africa the cause of the end of apartheid?

I don’t know enough about South African history to answer this question knowledgably. However, like most things in life, I expect that the boycott was only one of many causes.

13.  Do you or do you not want Israel to annex all of the territories in which there are settlements?

Yes. But only Area C, in which there are 342,000 Israelis and only 50,000 Palestinians. Areas A and B should remain autonomous Palestinian areas, while allowing free passage for Jews to their holy places.

14.  Are you in favor of or against a “Transfer”, i.e. transferring some of the Israeli Arabs to the Palestinian Authority?

No. And neither are they.

15.  In return for keeping some of the settlements under Israeli rule, do you support handing over to the Palestinian Authority parts of the State of Israel in which there are only Arabs?

No. Firstly, that would leave Israel with impossible borders. Secondly, the overwhelming majority of Israeli Arabs do not want to live under Palestinian rule. Thirdly, the question presupposes an equation of land-swaps which I reject (this is too long an issue to go into in depth here).

16.  If Israel was to annex Judea and Samaria, in your opinion, should 2.5 million Palestinians be given the right to vote for the Knesset?

Israel should not annex 2.5 million Palestinians.

17.  In the territories [= The West Bank/Judea and Samaria] there are some roads on which only Israelis are allowed to drive and others on which only Palestinians may drive. What of the following is closest to your opinion: This is a good situation; This is not a good situation, but there is nothing to be done about it; This is not a good situation and it should end?

This is not a good situation, but there is no alternative, as I have explained above.

_________________________________________________________________________

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