Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Israel Can't Be All That Bad

The following is a press release regarding polling results being presented at the Haifa Conference for Social Responsibility. It shows that an overwhelming majority of Arabs living in Israel prefer Israel to any other country in the world. Israel may not be perfect, but given the way Israel's been continually vilified for just about everything, including its treatment of its Arab minority, it must be doing something right.

Press Release

April 7, 2008

Arab-Jewish relations index for 2007, which will be presented tomorrow at the Haifa Conference for Social Responsibility at the University of Haifa:

62% of the Jewish public is wary of civil disobedience among the Arab public; 64.6% avoid entering Arab towns in Israel. *A slight rise compared to last year in the majority of indices that measure relations between Jews and Arabs*

62% of Jews suspect that Arab Israelis will begin a popular uprising and 64% refrain from entering Arab towns in Israel - reports the Arab-Jewish relations index for 2007, which will be presented tomorrow at the Haifa Conference for Social Responsibility held at the University of Haifa. The index also reveals that the Arab public has some suspicions of their own: 62% are suspicious of a transfer and 76% are suspicious of State-sponsored violence.

From the index, complied by Prof. Sami Smooha - Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Haifa and a 2008 Israel Prize Laureate in Sociology, it was revealed that more than half of the Jewish public and the Arab public think that relations between Jews and Arabs are not good and they become even worse in the future.

In the study, presented for the second year at the Haifa Conference for Social Responsibility, 699 Jewish civilians and 719 Arab citizens representative of the country were asked their stance on a range of issues relating to the Jewish-Arab rift.

Notwithstanding the suspicions of both sides; 86% of the Jewish population and 75% of the Arab population believe that Israel is a good place to live; 85% amongst the Jewish public and 71% amongst the Arab public prefer Israel over any other nation in the world. 58% amongst the Arab public believe that Israel democratic for them too.

Also; 62% of the Jewish public believe that Arab citizens risk national security by their high birth rate (compared to 64.4% last year); 80% are suspicious of Arab Israeli support for the Palestinian national struggle (compared to 83.1% last year). 80% of Arabs fear that their civil rights may be harmed (compared to 77.4% last year) and 83% are worried about major land expropriation (compared to 80% last year).

Furthermore, the percentage of Arabs who deny Israel's right to exist as a Jewish-Zionist state rose slightly from 62.6% last year to 64% this year.

The percentage of Arab civilians who deny Israel's right to exist rose from 15% last year to 20% this year. Support for the use of violence to advance the interests of the Arab minority rose from 9.5% to 10.8% this year. 18% of the Jewish public denies the right of existence to the Arabs as a minority in Israel compared to 16% last year.

Altogether, 48.3% of the Jewish public believe that they can't trust Arab citizens; however, 60.2% of the Arab public believe that they can't trust Jewish citizens; while 37% of the Jewish public supports encouraging Arabs to leave Israel, one third support stripping the Arabs of their voting rights.

The indices that measure the possibility of co-existence between the two groups showed declines. Only 54% of the Jewish public feels that both sides have historic rights to the Land compared to 68.5% last year. Also, support for the two-state solution was down from 74% the previous year to 70% this year.

Last year, 67.5% of the Arab public polled believed that Israel within the borders of the Green Line has a right to exist as a Jewish and democratic nation where Jews and Arabs can live side by side - compared to 49% this year.

"The index exposes the dimensions of the deep rift between Arabs and Jews; in order to narrow this divide, there is a need to settle the Palestinian question and to find a balance between the Jewish and democratic characters of the State. Nevertheless, looking at it in perspective and in comparison to surveys conducted over the years, it is important to note that there isn't a trend towards extremism in the attitudes of the Arab population or entrenchment among the Jewish public," Prof. Smooha said.

The full results from the index will be presented at the Haifa Conference for Social Responsibility held on April 8-9 at the University of Haifa on the topic of "Whose responsibility is it?". The conference will discuss a range of topics related to the links between the State, civilian society and the private sector on all things related to social responsibility in Israel.

Participants in the conference include; the State Comptroller, Justice Michah Lindenstrauss; High Court Judge, Justice Dalia Dorner (ret.); Interior Minister, Meir Shetreet; MK, Amir Peretz; former General Manager of the Finance Ministry and Chair of Governing Council, University of Haifa, Dr. Yossi Bachar; Israel Prize Laureate, Dov Lautman; Minister for Welfare and Social Services, Yitzhak Herzog; Menashe Samira, Director-General, Second Television and Radio Broadcasting Authority; and more.

Amir Gilat, Ph.D.

Communication and Media Relations
University of Haifa
Tel: +972-4-8240098/2
Cell: +972-52-6178200

No comments: