October 7, 2013

Israeli apartheid: the numbers

Richard Silverman, Tikun Olam - The Israel Democracy Institute released its latest Democracy Index (summary and full findings), [confirming] 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. 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. ...

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.

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.

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.

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.

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