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Survey of Israeli Racism: 58% of Jews Label Their State ‘Apartheid’

Yesterday, I wrote a post about an Israeli survey by Prof. Camil Fuchs, one of Israel’s leading pollsters, that examined Israeli Jewish attitudes toward ethnic and religious identity, racism and other forms of discrimination.  The survey was commissioned by the Yisraela Goldblum Fund and the results were first published by Gideon Levy in yesterday’s Haaretz.

I was so intrigued by the survey that I sought to obtain the full survey results (Hebrew, English summary).  Prof. Fuchs forwarded my message to Prof. Amiram Goldblum of the Hebrew University, who sent me the results.  Ironically, I first met Prof. Goldblum when he wrote, asking me some questions about issues of libel because Israeli rightists have made a habit of stalking him online.  I was glad to offer some ideas about how to pursue his case.

So I was delighted to find out that a Fund he created in his wife’s memory commissioned the survey.  He summoned a distinguished group of Israeli academics, diplomats, attorneys, former MKs, and human rights activists to formulate questions that would plumb attitudes of Israelis (Jews) on these critical issues of the day.  Among them were Ilan Baruch, who recently resigned in protest from the Israeli foreign ministry, Alon Liel, who sponsored an initiative for Syrian-Israeli peace that was interrupted by the 2006 Lebanon war, human rights attorney Michael Sfard, Prof. Menachem Klein (Bar Ilan University), and IDF Col. (res.) Morela Bar-On.

My post yesterday largely followed the summary of it published by Gideon Levy.  Today, I wanted to delve into it in more detail and convey the results more fully.

The first question asked how satisfied were respondents with their life in Israel.  Though the overall response was 69% favorable, it’s notable that fully one-third of secular Israelis answered No to that question.  Though dissatisfaction with life in one’s homeland isn’t a sure indicator that you’ll leave, it should be a worrying sign to those concerned with preserving this important demographic.  These Israelis are the proverbial canary in the coal mine and tell us in which direction that sector of Israeli society is moving.  In fact, I’d guess that this number will rise as Israel becomes even more religious, and the poor become poorer as the rich get richer, and wars and violence continue unabated.

While a plurality of 39% of Israeli Jews believe there’s discrimination against new immigrants who wish to work in government ministries, 50% believe there is such discrimination against Israeli Palestinian citizens.  59% believe there should be discrimination in favor of Jews pursuing such jobs.

A minority of 41% believed new immigrants should not be allowed to vote in year following their immigration to Israel.  33% believed that a law should be enacted prohibiting Israeli Palestinians from voting.  Not only is this question important as an indicator of the disintegration of democratic values and the triumph of Israeli racism–it’s important because a number of far-right proposals suggest that Israel annex the Territories along with all their Palestinian population, while restricting or denying voting rights.  This is precisely the sort of apartheid attitudes this poll was designed to explore.

There was an even 49-49% split on the question of whether the State should cater more to Jews or non-Jews.  If an Israeli Palestinian family lived in their building, 42% of Israeli Jews would find this offensive.  A similar percentage would be offended if a Palestinian child was in the same class as their own child.

It’s perhaps an unintended irony that when asked how they would respond to an American author who supported BDS and refused to visit Israel, a plurality of 48% suggested inviting the author to visit the country.  When told that the author believes Israel is an apartheid state, 58% agreed that it was, either in full or in “certain spheres.”

36% of Israelis believe that the South African boycott contributed in whole or in part to the end of apartheid there.  30% had no opinion, which I interpret to mean some were too frightened to contemplate the question and its personal implications for them (and Israel).

38% want Israel to annex the Territories (48% oppose this option).  A plurality of 47% of Israeli Jews support the ethnic cleansing (euphemistically called “transfer” in Hebrew) of Israeli Palestinian citizens. 36% of Israelis support the plan of Avigdor Lieberman to annex sections of Israel that are populated by Israeli Palestinians to Palestine (thus forcing their expulsion from Israel).  Were Israel to annex the Territories, 19% of Israelis favor giving Palestinians living there the right to vote (this in essence is what a one state solution would mean).  69% would not offer them the right to vote (which in essence would be a replication of South African apartheid).

amir mizroch twitter profile

Amir Mizroch’s Twitter profile featuring a “KILL” IDF vision test and a Middle East map on which the word “Bad” is stamped on every Arab country

Only 17% of Israelis believe that segregated roads should not be permissible.  74% either are untroubled by segregated roads or are troubled by it, but accept it as necessary.

This is an extremely important social document.  Please do you best to make it known as widely as possible.

There was one question I wish had been asked, but I know the answer even without it being included.  If you asked whether they supported Israel being a democratic state, the overwhelming majority would say Yes.  Which goes to prove that a country can go to hell in a handbasket while its citizens believe they’re well on their way to heaven.

A side note: I just came across the Twitter account of Amir Mizroch, Yisrael HaYom’s English edition editor.  Go visit it before he hears that I’ve outed him and censors himself.  It features the accompanying images: one is an IDF vision test featuring the sole word, “Kill.”  The other is a map of the Mideast on which every Arab country has the word “Bad” stamped.  N-o-t v-e-r-y f-u-n-n-y.  Racist? Yes.  Funny?  No.

This is the way the winds are blowing in Israel.  Yet another indication of the racism that infects not just the Israeli poor or uneducated, but the media elite and virtually every (Jewish) strata as well.

{ 23 comments… add one }
  • Bob Mann October 24, 2012, 9:32 AM

    Can you post a translated version from the Hebrew? I’d be curious to see how this breaks down in terms of religious vs. secular.

  • mary October 24, 2012, 11:46 PM

    I believe this is the same survey whose results I saw yesterday published in pie graph form my Haaretz. Appalling that Israelis believe they’re a democracy yet most would not allow Palestinians the right to vote or travel on the same roads. The hypocrisy is just breathtaking.

    • Bob Mann October 25, 2012, 11:36 AM

      The survey did not include Israeli Arabs (20 percent of the population) – only Israeli Jews

      • mary October 25, 2012, 1:05 PM

        That should give you a heads-up right there, Bob.

  • Nimrod October 28, 2012, 2:16 AM

    Dear Richard,
    It may interest you to know that today, Sunday 28/10/2012, the Haaretz newspaper published a clarification in its printed edition, say that the original wording of this article from the 23/10 was incorrect, and I’m translating:
    “הניסוח של הכותרת הראשית, “רובי הישראלים תומכים במשטר אפרטהייד בארץ” (“הארץ 23.10), לא שיקף במדוייק את ממצאי הסקר של חברת “דיאלוג”. השאלה שעליה השיבו רוב משתתפי המדגם בשלילה לא התייחסה למצב העכשווי, אלא למצב היפותטי בעתיד:” אם ישראל תספח את שטחי יהודה ושומרון, האם לדעתך צריך להעניק ל2.5 מליון פלסטינים זכות הצבעה לכנסת?”

    translation: the original question that most of the people in the poll answered no to did not reference the current state, but a hypothetical state in the future.

    And this is exactly what I meant when I said that polls sometimes manipulate the people who are questioned, and in other cases reach false conclusions.

  • Zyx October 28, 2012, 7:12 PM

    Pathetic survey with no credibility to which Levy and Silberstein have added gross manipulation.
    Shame on both, shame on Haaretz.

    • Richard Silverstein October 28, 2012, 8:12 PM

      Oh Lord, he’s linking to Natan Sharansky’s Jewish Agency media enforcer, Avi Mayer. Same guy who touted a Turkish genocide denier. I’d trust Aveleh’s word in a heartbeat, wouldn’t you?

      • mary October 29, 2012, 12:06 AM

        Avi Mayer actively spends his time discrediting anyone who speaks for the rights of Palestinians. He’s one of the worst apologists for the abuse of the Palestinian people I’ve ever seen.

  • Meir Amor October 29, 2012, 8:16 AM

    Read on Haaretz apology:


    • Richard Silverstein October 29, 2012, 8:52 PM

      Unfortunately, people like you can’t read even your own native language. Haaretz made no apology. It published a clarification saying it deemed one interpretation Levy offered in his article to be misleading. And it didn’t use that word (“misleading”). No apology. None. And it didn’t fault the poll at all. But call it what you like. YOu right wingers don’t give a crap about truth or reality anyway. You just see what you want and call it what you want. Words mean precisely what you need or want them to mean–reality be damned.

      And btw when you come up with any legitimate criticism of my own interpretation of the poll let me know. I’ve linked to the entire poll. Go find something to whine about it & let us know what you find. Till then, go soak your head.

      • Deïr Yassin November 1, 2012, 12:46 PM

        @ Richard
        “You right wingers don’t give a crap about truth or reality anyway”
        This is not fair to Meir Amor. He has written other comments on this blog showing that he’s absoultely no right winger. He’s a professor of sociology in Canada, his subject is among others the Mizrahim, and if you google you’ll see he’s labelled “anti-israel” who’s “real agenda is trashing Israel” by pro-Israeli watchdogs.

        • Richard Silverstein November 1, 2012, 9:49 PM

          Omigod, now I feel totally foolish. I’ve just written to him privately inviting him to publish something here on the Mizrahi role in Israeli society.

          • Deïr Yassin November 2, 2012, 4:33 AM

            I truly hope he will. The article by Smadar Lavie and her links were very interesting, and what I’ve read by Meir Amor too.
            Personally I would like to know what kind of psychological process makes Eli Yishai, a Tunisian Jew, capable of saying “Israel is for the White man” though he said so in the context of African ‘infiltrators’. Waiting for the day when academics of Ethiopian origin start writing about their story in the State of Israel.

  • tania josefa October 30, 2012, 6:43 AM

    and what percentage of israeli/palestinian arabs (in nablus for example) would be offended if an israeli jew were to live in their building? maybe a lot more than 42%. maybe 82%. maybe 92%. maybe 100%. the above survey is biased. redo the survey. israel is an apartheid state only in favor of muslims. muslim women shop with pleasure on jaffa road in jewish west jerusalem, but jewish women may not be seen or heard on any street in ramallah, nablus or gaza city, and male israeli jews entering any of those cities are more than likely to get lynched by devout muslim arab israelis/palestinians there.

    • mary November 3, 2012, 12:27 AM

      Priceless. First, Richard didn’t do the survey. If you had read the piece, you would know that. Second, it’s obvious you don’t know anything about Israel or occupied Palestine (you would know there are no Israeli Jews living in Gaza City, for one thing). If you are going to be a troll, at least try to appear that you know something about the subject you are commenting on.

  • Zyx October 30, 2012, 11:56 AM

    Gideon Levy just published an apology in Haaretz because his “article” is full of lie.
    When will Silberstein do the same?

    • mary October 30, 2012, 1:21 PM


      Levy: ” The article itself, which I wrote, did not contain any mistakes. It provided a precise and detailed description of the survey results. In my analysis of the survey, which appeared as a separate article, there was a single sentence that did not accurately represent the poll results and contradicted what I had written in the news piece a short time beforehand. My sin was to write: “The majority doesn’t want Arabs to vote for the Knesset, Arab neighbors at home or Arab students at school.””

      Not what I would call an “apology.” You should learn to read. Here is the link:

      Levy again, so apropos: “This deviation from the important issue, this incitement against the mistakes, was done deliberately. It was intended to obscure the truth revealed by the survey, which justifiably has garnered harsh responses around the world. It was the final means of propaganda available to those who seek to blur the true image of Israeli society and paint an unrealistic, imaginary portrait instead.”

      • Richard Silverstein October 30, 2012, 1:35 PM

        What’s amazing about this is that the so called apology, which was actually a clarification, was written in Hebrew, presumably their native language. It’s not mine, but even I could decipher it accurately. But there’s a hasbara meme that an apology was issued & by God that must mean there was. In fact, I don’t even think they read it. Commander Hasbara gave them marching orders & like good little automatons they followed them & disseminated the Politburo’s talking pts.

        • mary October 30, 2012, 1:43 PM

          I’m still laughing. Not only is it not an apology, but Levy manages to use the occasion to further illustrate his point.

  • Meir Amor October 30, 2012, 6:43 PM

    Dear Richard Silverstein,
    You are running, full force, into an open door. My mistake was in writing “apology” instead of “clarification”. I stand corrected on that matter. That is all. I provided a link. Nothing else. You can make of it whatever you want, but I suggest that you’ll save your ammunition to real targets. I’m not one of these targets. And I do not need any preaching on being on the Left in Israel.

    However, the argument that is “dandling” between us is still valid: racism in Israel is directed not only against Arabs by religious Jews and “others” (Now we clearly know who they are? Don’t we?). There is a clear line of white racism in Israel. We, Mizrachi Israeli-(Arab) Jews call it: Ashkenazi privilege.

    I know you recently published a review of my friend, Smdar Lavie’s article; an article that deals with aspects of Ashkenazi privilege. However, neither Gideon Levy nor you discuss Ashkenazi racism with the thoroughness it deserves and merits.

    Do you think that “privileged” racism (of mainly Ashkenazi Jews, well educated, well positioned and well privileged) is inconsequential in Israeli politics? Ask the “labor settlement movement” to give up its exclusive dominance of land in Israel? This will suffice as a response.
    With best regards,
    Meir Amor

    • Richard Silverstein October 30, 2012, 11:03 PM

      My apology. There is a pro-Israel social media meme offered by commenters here as well, that Haaretz apologized with its tail between its legs for the poll & Levy’s interpretation of it. When you used the word “apology” I mistakenly thought you were part of that mob.

      I had this argument with Matthew Kalman, a pro Israel freelance journalist based in Israel. He was like a dog with a bone insisting Haaretz had disowned Levy’s column. He even had the chutzpah to claim I couldn’t read the Hebrew of the Haaretz statement.

      As for Ashkenazi privilege, of course it is a huge problem. I recall writing a post denouncing Shimon Peres’ brother for a particularly nasty racist smear against Amir Peretz’s during the campaign.

      I’m also currently trying to place an exposé on Jeffrey Goldberg that will attack him for dismissing the Jerusalem lynching last month by saying it was perpetrated by Mizrahim angered by their expulsion from their Arab native birthplaces.

      • Deïr Yassin November 1, 2012, 1:07 PM

        Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t see this exchange before commenting on Meir Amor above. He wrote a comment here some time back that touched me, so I googled his name and discovered a very interesting ‘profile’.
        I’m always touched by Mizrahim who say “I’m an Arab Jew” and then this is the sign of great humanity.

  • Meir Amor November 2, 2012, 5:12 AM

    Dear Richard Silverstein and dear Deir Yassin,
    Thank you. I’ll be happy to write something regarding this incident and present a (simple but) general overview of “peace and war” and “racism” from a Mizrachi-Arab-Jew point of view. Nobody nominated me to a speaker’s role and I do not claim to be a speaker of anybody, but I can and will speak my mind. I do think there are several “structural” omissions in the “conventional wisdom” debate that should be presented and might shed a different light on various aspects.

    Thanks and I’ll be in touch.
    Meir Amor

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