Poll: Racism Still ‘Significant Factor’ in Jewish-Arab Relations

General view of Umm Lison Village and Armon Hanatsiv. Photo by Noam Moskowitz/Flash90
General view of Umm Lison village and Armon Hanatziv. (Noam Moskowitz/Flash90)

One out of every four Israelis has acted or spoken in a racist manner against Arabs in the past year, a poll taken on behalf of the Israel Coalition Against Racism shows. The groups with the most anti-Arab feelings were young adults age 18-28, and new immigrants from former Soviet Union countries.

The poll was conducted by the Rafi Smith polling organization. It queried Jews about their feelings on Arabs, but did not cover how non-citizen Arabs felt about Jews. The poll queried a cross-section of 750 Israelis, Arab and Jewish. The poll was conducted in advance of International Acnti-Racism Day, set for Wednesday.

The poll said that 52 percent of Israelis – 49 percent of Jews and 67 percent of Arabs – believe that Israel is more racist now that it was two years ago. Only 11 percent overall believe it is less racist. “Racism” was defined as feelings against three specific groups – Arabs, Ethiopian immigrants, and illegal African workers or asylum seekers. In each case, at least three-quarters of Israelis said that there was a high level of racism.

Forty-one percent said that there was still racism in Israeli society towards Jews of Middle Eastern origin, while 39 percent said that Jews from the former Soviet Union were disliked. In addition, 20 percent said that there was racism against Jews of Ashkenazic descent. The best way to fight racism is with education, 79 percent of respondents said, while 11 percent said that public figures should provide a personal example. Just 6 percent said that legislation would solve the problem.

In a statement, the organization said that the data “is worrying, but there is a positive side – Israelis are aware of the problem, know how to recognize it, and treat it. Racism is a terrible disease that can spread and destroy a society.”