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Israeli Democracy Index: Israelis Believe Jews Should be Privileged, Non-Jews Should Not Decide Major Issues

beitar jerusalem racist

Beitar Jerusalem soccer club fans unfurl Kahanist banner, shouting anti-Arab slogans

The Israel Democracy Institute released its latest Democracy Index (summary and full findings), which I’ve covered here in the past.  The findings, as I’ve reported before, confirm that by and large Israelis hold racist views and reject bedrock democratic principles, while believing that their country should be both Jewish and a democracy.

Just under 50% (48.9%) believe Israel should privilege Jewish citizens over non-Jews.  Of those, younger Israelis showed an even higher preference for Jewish privilege (65%).  47% of Jews said that in terms of neighbors, their greatest aversion was to having an “Arab” neighbor.  The survey, of course, perpetuates this racism by calling Israeli Palestinians by the common Jewish-used term, “Arab.”  An even greater proportion, 56% expressed antipathy to having a foreign worker as a neighbor (among whom would be included African refugees).  42% of Palestinian respondents shared an aversion to a Jewish family as neighbors.

44% support policies encouraging Palestinian citizens to emigrate from Israel.  This racist policy, known as population transfer, began in the 1970s as a hallmark of the Kahanist movement.  But it became mainstream over the years (though the percentage of Israelis supporting it has gradually declined in recent years).

68% of Jews believe only they should be allowed to determine matters of peace and security, while 57% believe this should also hold true for economic matters.  31% (a plurality) believed that only Jews should be permitted to vote on any referendum on the final status of the Occupied Territories.  65% of Israeli Jews believe that Jews are “the chosen people.”  Of those, the majority tend to believe non-Jews should have no role in determining major national policy choices.  The older the respondent the less likely they were to believe Jews were chosen.  It should go without saying that these views are flagrantly anti-democratic and conflict with the view that most Israeli Jews hold that Israel is and should be democratic.

75% believe Israel can be Jewish and democratic.  Only 37% prefer Israel to be equally Jewish and democratic (this number has been falling over the past three years).  33% prefer it to be Jewish.  29% prefer it to be democratic (this number has been rising).  Younger Israelis gave the highest preference to “Jewish,” while older Israelis gave the highest preference to “democratic.”  A worrying development for Israel’s future.

While 75% of Israeli Jews believe Israel can be both Jewish and democratic, only 35% of Israeli Palestinians believe this.

50% of Israelis are “satisfied” with the functioning of Israeli democracy, while 46% are “dissatisfied.”  Interestingly, the results have charted upward over recent years among those who are satisfied with Israeli democracy.  It can’t be an accident that during those years Israel has been moving in an increasingly rightist (non-democratic) direction.  So it would make sense that Israelis endorsing such views would be happy with the direction the country was taking, even if democracy was actually eroding.  68% of Israeli Palestinians were dissatisfied with Israeli democracy.

Only 35% of Israelis believed that decisions by the Knesset that violated due process, minority rights, and freedom of expression were not “democratic.”  Meaning that the majority of Israelis believe that such rights could be violated in legislation with Israel still entitled to consider itself a democracy.  52% of Israelis believe that human rights NGOs cause “harm” to the State.

A 43% plurality of Israeli Jews assessed the overall situation of life in Israel as “so-so,” meaning not particularly good and not particularly bad.  A 39% plurality of Israeli Palestinians rated the situation “bad.”  83% of Jews feel “proud” to be an Israeli while only 39% of Israeli Palestinians feel proud.

A 48% plurality disagreed with the statement that the Knesset and its members were “doing a good job.”  69% believe that politicians “look out more for themselves than the public.”  A remarkably low 55% believe there is a marked difference among the political parties.  58% believe it doesn’t matter who you vote for because it won’t change the political situation.

63% of Israelis believe that soldiers should not have the right to refuse to serve in the Occupied Territories.  But a much lower 50% believe soldiers do not have the right to refuse to evacuate Jewish settlements in the Territories.  53% believe that Israelis should not be permitted to criticize the State in “harsh” terms.  Meaning that freedom of speech is not a deeply ingrained value for most Israelis.

Though 73% of respondents believe that the use of violence to further political goals is impermissible, that number has done a nose dive over the years from 87% only last year.  Thus Israelis are gradually becoming more inured and accepting of such violent acts as the price tag phenomenon increases in intensity.  Again, young people are the most accepting of the use of violence.

91% of Israeli Jews place great trust in the IDF, while only 35% of Israeli Palestinians (who largely do not serve) did.  Nearly 50% of Israelis Palestinians place their greatest trust in the Supreme Court (which explains why Israeli rightists have lobbied strenuously to diminish the power of the Court).  Among the lowest level of trust were the “political parties.”

A development I find particularly shocking because it is so at odds with polls here is that younger Israelis are more nationalist and right-wing than older Israelis.  This may reflect the fact that the birth-rate among Orthodox Jews is far higher than among secular Jews.  But it still indicates that the younger generation is even less amendable to political compromise than the older.  A very dispiriting phenomenon, I’m afraid.

The Democracy Index also rated Israel’s performance in a number of international indices that ranked democratic values and culture by country (27 were included).  Israel was 12th out of 27 countries in “perception of corruption.”  It was 23rd in the level of military interference in politics (between Syria and China!).  20th in civil rights.  25th in “religious tensions.”  27th in ethnic tensions.

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{ 29 comments… add one }
  • lifelong October 7, 2013, 7:25 AM

    – 65% of Israeli Jews believe that Jews are “the chosen people.”

    Perhaps the most disturbing figure, depending on what they believe this ‘chosen’ status gives them the right to.

    • Bob Mann October 7, 2013, 9:11 AM

      It is a belief in Judaism that Jews are in a covenant with God. It creates obligations exclusive to Jews. It does not entail any exclusive rewards for Jews. It is related to commandments that Jewish people (who believe this) are required to follow.

      • Castellio October 7, 2013, 10:53 AM

        Isn’t Richard presenting the evidence that your interpretation is part of a Liberal past?

      • Richard Silverstein October 7, 2013, 1:00 PM

        @ Bob: I think you & I both know that while some principled Jews may see “chosenness” as a command from God to stand for a higher set of moral values, that this isn’t how the principle is lived & believed by most Jews who embrace it. Chosenness for settler Jews is nothing more than a form of Jewish racialist superemacy.

        But I think your point is well taken in that the concept of chosenness has been hijacked by certain elements of Orthodox ultranationalist Israelis for their own political purposes. Just as certain elements of Islam, Islamist fundamentalists pervert tenets of Islam for political purposes.

        I don’t think the concept of chosenness in & of itself is the problem. It’s how the concept gets interpreted by some Jews that is.

        • Davey October 7, 2013, 9:15 PM

          No matter how “chosenness” is interpreted, it places the Jewish people apart from, outside of, others. It is, by definition, not universal. I think that this concept may be at the heart of the troubled history of Jews, not just the current abuse of the concept but going back. Historically, assimilation was a relatively recent concept. Anti-semitism is perhaps the flip side of “chosenness.” Ghettos can be built to protect or to separate.

          • Kevin Herbert October 7, 2013, 10:22 PM

            I have a real problem with the term ‘anti-semitic’ as it has become the call sign of Zionist race supremacists.
            Herzl coined it I understand, and it’s been overplayed to the hilt by the Zionist controlled US MSM for 100 years, along with every far right Zionist group globally.

            Unfairly discrimiinating against any ethnic group is racism…the idea that one group has to have, in effect, what is a marketing term to describe racism against it, is in itself a form of race supremacism.

            I was raised in Melbourne Australia where there is/was one of the highest concentrations of Shoah survivors globally, and where any criticism of Jews whatsoever was subjected to hysterical over reactions from the usual crew of local Board of Deputies et al …led in the main by that odious supra nationalist Israeli Isi Liebler.

            It was only when I got to meet many secular Jews during mu student days that I realised that the hysterical reactions were made by far right Zionists who in fact represented around .5% of Oz’s 100K Jewish population. When I married an Auschwirz survivor’s daughter I was further convinced of the race supremacist self appointed leaders of the Jewish community. My father in law was an impressive man, a real human being, who despite the horrors of Auschwitz experienced between 11 & 14 years old, saw right thru these Zionist opportunists. “Bloody gangsters’ is how he used to describe them.

          • Richard Silverstein October 8, 2013, 2:45 AM

            @ Kevin Herbert: I agree with much of what you said here. But I take issue with phrases like “Zionist controlled US MSM.” Using slogans like this verges on propaganda. And propaganda doesn’t enlighten. It’s a form of cheerleading or boosterism. I don’t like the phrase you used. It’s inexact, sloppy and offensive.

          • Kevin Herbert October 9, 2013, 9:21 PM

            [comment deleted--this is precisely the sort of trash that is prohibited according to the comment rules. Read them. If you can't respect them, you won't publish here.]

          • Richard Silverstein October 8, 2013, 2:42 AM

            That’s not so. Chosenness, as many Jews interpret it, actually cause them to engage in the world more fully. It gives them moral obligations & demands high-minded living & acts. Personally, I don’t adhere to the concept of chosenness. But interpreted in a progressive way it’s not more offensive than the Muslim term Jihad (which is only offensive as interpreted by Islamist radicals who use it to justify violence).

            Saying chosenness is “at the heart of the troubled history of Jews” is falling into an anti-Semite induced trap. You’ve bought into the propaganda of the enemy I’m sorry to say.

  • yankel October 7, 2013, 9:32 AM

    As for the natural, everyday consequences of such attitude see this item (English) from ynet:
    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4437379,00.html

  • Diane V. McLoughlin October 7, 2013, 9:47 AM

    I appreciated the analysis. It was my reading of choice over my morning coffee. [Am wondering if amenable rather than amendable was intended.]

  • Dave Terry October 7, 2013, 11:04 AM

    >”44% support policies encouraging Palestinian citizens to emigrate from Israel. This racist policy, known as population transfer, began in the 1970s as a hallmark of the Kahanist movement. “<

    NOT EVEN CLOSE, Richard; "population transfer" has been an essential component of the Zionist program from the very beginning; looking toward a practically complete dispossession of the indigenous Arab population so that Israel could be a wholly Jewish state, or as much as was possible. Land bought by the Jewish National Fund was held in the name of the Jewish people and could never be sold or even leased back to Arabs (a situation which continues to the present).

    In 1919, the American King-Crane Commission spent six weeks in Syria and Palestine, interviewing delegations and reading petitions. Their report stated, “The commissioners began their study of Zionism with minds predisposed in its favor…The fact came out repeatedly in the Commission’s conferences with Jewish representatives that the Zionists looked forward to a practically complete dispossession of the present non-Jewish inhabitants of Palestine

    Zionists made no secret of their intentions, for as early as 1921, Dr. Eder, a member of the Zionist Commission, boldly told the Court of Inquiry, ‘there can be only one National Home in Palestine, and that a Jewish one, and no equality in the partnership between Jews and Arabs, but a Jewish preponderance as soon as the numbers of the race are sufficiently increased.’ He then asked that only Jews should be allowed to bear arms.

    Joseph Weitz, director of the Jewish National Land Fund wrote on December 19, 1940: "It must be clear that there is no room for both peoples in this country…The Zionist enterprise so far…has been fine and good in its own time, and could do with ‘land buying’ — but this will not bring about the State of Israel; …., there is no way besides transferring the Arabs from here to the neighboring countries, to transfer them all; except maybe for Bethlehem, Nazareth and Old Jerusalem, we must not leave a single village, not a single tribe"

    “That Ben-Gurion’s ultimate aim was to evacuate as much of the Arab population as possible from the Jewish state can hardly be doubted, if only from the variety of means he employed to achieve his purpose…most decisively, the destruction of whole villages and the eviction of their inhabitants…even [if] they had not participated in the war and had stayed in Israel hoping to live in peace and equality, as promised in the Declaration of Independence.”

    • Richard Silverstein October 7, 2013, 1:05 PM

      Your point is well taken. But while forced exile has been a known principle going back as long as you mention, but I don’t think your argument is the slam dunk you believe it is. Except for the Nakba and more recent Israeli policy of expelling Palestinians from East Jerusalem & the Territories through rescinding their residency permits, I haven’t seen the principle put into action. So your historical evidence is interesting & suggestive, but not conclusive.

      • Davey October 7, 2013, 9:18 PM

        What? “I haven’t seen the principle put into action.” The policies of the occupation are all designed to discourage Palestinian life and culture. It aims at transfer, though perhaps “self-transfer” (in place of “self-determination.”) I would regard such self-transfer as “forced.”

        • Richard Silverstein October 8, 2013, 2:48 AM

          @ Davey: On 2nd thought, I think you were right and I was wrong. Transfer as a concept is organically related to Nakba, Occupation, & all the big & little injustices & indignities inflicted on Palestinians.

      • Deïr Yassin October 8, 2013, 12:57 AM

        In fact the transfer policy of the Zionist movement goes back right to the beginning. When the Jewish National Fund bought land from feudal landlords they expelled – contrary to local tradition – the tenants who often had been living and working on the land for many generations to replace them by Jewish immigrants.
        The biggest single sale of land, practically the whole Marj Ibn Amr (the Jezreel Valley) by the Lebanese Sursuk-family was conditioned by the expulsion of hundreds of families, whole tribes was made homeless, and Haifa for instance saw an influx of homeless people already in the ’20. The internal transfer of Palestinian citizens of Israel is still ongoing (cf. the Bédouins in the Negev).

  • Dave Terry October 7, 2013, 9:52 PM

    Despite the steady arrival of Jewish colonists in Palestine after 1882, it is important to realize that not until the few weeks immediately preceding the establishment of Israel in the spring of 1948 was there ever anything other than a huge Arab majority. For example, the Jewish population in 1931 was 174,606 against a total of 1,033,314.

    Are you aware of what occurred in those “few weeks immediately preceding the establishment of the Israel” You speak of the Nakba as though it was minor inconvenience to the Palestinians. Surely, you don’t give credence to the stale propaganda that the Palestinians moved away on their own accord.

    “During May [1948] ideas about how to consolidate and give permanence to the Palestinian exile began to crystallize, and the destruction of villages was immediately perceived as a primary means of achieving this aim…[Even earlier,] On 10 April, Haganah units took Abu Shusha… The village was destroyed that night… Khulda was leveled by Jewish bulldozers on 20 April… Abu Zureiq was completely demolished… Al Mansi and An Naghnaghiya, to the southeast, were also leveled. . .By mid-1949, the majority of [the 350 depopulated Arab villages] were either completely or partly in ruins and uninhabitable.” Benny Morris, “The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949.

    Estimates on the number of Palestinian Refugees in 1950 range from just under 700,000 to just over 1 million.
    THAT IS WHY IT IS CALLED “NAKBA” – “Day of the Catastrophe”) One simply cannot dismiss this as “just one of those things that happen”

    “The first UN General Assembly resolution—Number 194— affirming the right of Palestinians to return to their homes and property, was passed on December 11, 1948. It has been repassed no less than twenty-eight times since that first date. Whereas the moral and political right of a person to return to his place of uninterrupted residence is acknowledged everywhere, Israel has negated the possibility of return… [and] systematically and juridically made it impossible, on any grounds whatever, for the Arab Palestinian to return, be compensated for his property, or live in Israel as a citizen equal before the law with a Jewish Israeli.” Edward Said, “The Question of Palestine.”

    Civilians caught in an area of military activity generally panic. But they have always been able to return to their homes when the danger subsides. Military conquest does not abolish private rights to property; nor does it entitle the victor to confiscate the homes, property and personal belongings of the noncombatant civilian population. The seizure of Arab property by the Israelis was, AND IS, an outrage.

    • Richard Silverstein October 8, 2013, 2:35 AM

      @ Dave Terry: My goal here is not to get into a major historical discussion about Nakba, the crimes of Zionism, etc. The comment threads aren’t a suitable place to do this. Also, I don’t appreciate anyone putting words in my mouth & attempting to characterize my views about Nakba or most anything else. I’ve written about Nakba many times here. Research those posts before you attempt to distort my views on the subject.

      Please review the comment rules & respect them. Stay on topic.

  • Bob Mann October 8, 2013, 4:23 AM

    Is there a relationship between the Jewishness of Israel and the policies of the Israeli government and leadership towards the Palestinians?

    If so, what is that relationship?

    • Deïr Yassin October 8, 2013, 10:56 AM

      I don’t know, Bob, maybe you should ask the Israeli Supreme Court president Asher Grunis which just ruled once again (last time was in 1970) that there is no Israeli nationality shared by all the citizens of Israel, but a “Jewish nationality” shared by ALL Jews of the world (whether they like it or not). That “Jewish nationality” gives the right to settle down in Israel (and Occupied Palestine) and obtain privileges that non-Jewish indigenous citizens of Israel (belonging to the “Arab”, “Bedouin” or “Druze” nationality) don’t have. Me think this is not a Jewish thing but they’ve found just a way to justify the colonial enterprise on both sides of the Green Line.
      Adalah (and ACRI) has made a data base with all the laws that discriminate between Jews and non-Jews, particularly the Citizenship Law, laws about land and property etc

  • Dave Terry October 8, 2013, 9:15 PM

    Richard:
    I had NO intention of “putting words into your mouth”, and quite honestly, I don’t see that I did. I simply cannot see HOW you could fully understand the horror of the Nakba, yet say that I haven’t seen the principle of “ethnic cleansing” put into action. It is tantamount to holocaust denial

    No one here understands and respects, more than I, the difficult position you are in here. I am sure that you have been called a “self-hating Jew” as often as I have been called an “anti-Semite”. I refuse to recognize either the moral authority OR rationality of those knee-jerk Zionists who do so, AND I don’t believe YOU should either; so you needn’t be defensive or understate your criticism.

    • Richard Silverstein October 8, 2013, 9:45 PM

      @ Dave Terry:

      ..how you could say that I haven’t seen the principle of “ethnic cleansing” put into action.

      Because that isn’t remotely what I said. And this further supports my refusal to allow people like you to characterize what I say or believe.

      I said that because I saw population transfer as an unrealized political concept (since 1948, Israeli Palestinians have not been forcibly exiled), I saw it as much more theoretical than Nakba. What I wrote is literally true. But on reconsideration, I can see how in general terms population transfer, Nakba & Occupation are birds of a feather.

      And as for “holocaust denial,” that is a pure junk statement. One that angers me & that I find deeply offensive.

      I also don’t need you to offer me advice on how I should approach my Zionist critics. I don’t offer them “moral authority.” But I am a Jew who insists on being heard by my fellow Jews. That is something that clearly doesn’t interest you at all. But it does me.

  • Dave Terry October 9, 2013, 1:20 AM

    @ Dave Terry:
    ” ..how you could say that I haven’t seen the principle of “ethnic cleansing” put into action.

    >(RS) “Because that isn’t remotely what I said. And this further supports my refusal to allow people like you to characterize what I say or believe.

    Are you saying that there is some fundamental difference between “population transfer” and “ethnic cleansing”????
    If Nakba resulted in 3/4 million homeless Palestinian refugees, is this NOT a very effective realization of the political concept of population transfer?. Most of those people are STILL displaced today!

    The reason it is not the official policy in Israel NOW, is that the world is watching, and groups like NIF and Jews for Justice are speaking out against it.

    re: “people like you”…….. People like me??? What is THAT supposed to mean.

    (RS) ” My goal here is not to get into a major historical discussion about Nakba, the crimes of Zionism, etc. The comment threads aren’t a suitable place to do this.

    Please explain then why the original article you wrote is suitable. YOU are the one who brought up the subject in the first place.

    • Richard Silverstein October 9, 2013, 2:12 AM

      @ Dave Terry: This is the dialogue of the deaf & I ain’t the deaf one.

      So let’s try this again & for one last time: Nakba happened in 1948. It certainly was ethnic cleansing. But in terms of Israeli Palestinians (as opposed to Palestinians in the Occupied Territories who face far worse conditions), population transfer has not occurred since 48.

      I am not dismissing the grave injustice of Nakba, which I’ve called Israel’s Original Sin. Nor am I claiming Israel wouldn’t attempt population transfer if it thought it could get away with it. I was just arguing facts.

      But as I said, this is all academic because I’ve changed my mind & feel that the whole web of Nakba, population transfer, land theft, Occupation are interconnected.

      Let’s make this your & my last comment on the matter. Feel free to comment in other threads, but this one is done.

  • Dave Terry October 9, 2013, 10:28 PM

    @ K.H.> “I don’t see my statement as being propoganda given the below table:”

    It MAY not be propaganda, but it is DAMN POOR Presentation.
    You do more harm to your own arguments by the shrill and almost hysterical manner in which you present your facts.

    It is imperative that you differentiate the terms Zioniist from Jewish. Your ferver dulls your impact and insight when you throw generalities in with specific argumentation. This is NOT to say that Richard in right when he characterized your criticism of “choseness: as anti-Semitic propaganda; IT ISN’T; but there is a much more civil war of presenting the facts.

  • Dave Terry October 9, 2013, 10:48 PM

    @Kevin Herbert > “I don’t see my statement as being propoganda given the below table:

    It may not be propaganda, but it is very poor scholarship and presentation. You do your own arguments a disservice by the shrill and almost hysterical verbiage you use instead of clear, measured and non–hyperbolic phrasing. Richard is NOT
    the enemy, even though her referred to your interpretation of “choseness” as propaganda; NOR am I.

    Certainly the term “choseness” implies innate superiority, even though Richard doesn’t see it. A clear consensus is possible here without hard feelings, If we use civil and concise terminology.

  • Dorothea from Germany October 14, 2013, 2:39 PM

    “Just under 50% (48.9%) believe Israel should privilege Jewish citizens over non-Jews. Of those, younger Israelis showed an even higher preference for Jewish privilege (65%).”

    That’s not correct. The figures are for Israeli Jews, not for Israelis.

    • Richard Silverstein October 14, 2013, 5:31 PM

      You may not understand how Israeli polls work. When they ask a question about Israeli Jewish artitudes toward Israeli non Jews it is understood that the sample includes only Jews. I never claimed the sample included all Israelis for these questions. When I used the term “Israelis” I understood (& most others would as well) it only included Israeli Jews because that’s how these questions are polled.

      • Dorothea from Germany October 15, 2013, 2:55 AM

        “I never claimed the sample included all Israelis for these questions.”

        Of course, you did. For the first figure, there is no reference at all. However, as the article deals with the ISRAELI Democracy Index, the logical conclusion or implication is that it’s 48.9% of ISRAELIS. For the second figure, you use the term ISRAELIS when actually it refers to ISRAELI JEWS only. Your wording is factually incorrect. When presenting or analysing data, you need to be accurate. Furthermore, by saying ISRAELIS instead of ISRAELI JEWS, you negate the existence of non-Jewish Israelis. You expatriate the non-Jewish citizens and turn Israel into an exclusively Jewish state. That’s racist.
        Imagine how Jewish Germans would react if I used the term “Germans” as synonym for “non-Jewish Germans”. They would be totally outraged and rightly point out that they are Germans, too.
        Imagine how black US citizens would react if you used the term “US citizens” as synonym for “white US citizens”. Would you even dare to do that?
        “It is understood how the polls work.” is NOT an excuse or justification for factual inaccuracy and verbal deprivation of citizenship.

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