Poll: 64% of Israeli Jews support encouraging Arabs to leave

By Yulie Khromchenco, Haaretz Correspondent

June 22, 2004

A University of Haifa poll released Monday reveals that a majority of the Jewish public in Israel - 63.7 percent - believes that the government should encourage Israeli Arabs to emigrate from Israel.

The survey, conducted by the university's National Security Studies Center, also found that 48.6 percent of the Israeli Jews polled said the government was overly sympathetic to the Arab population.

Compared to similar polls conducted in 2001 and 2003, the current survey indicates an increase in the public's extremism.

The majority of Jewish respondents, 55.3 percent, said Israeli Arabs endangered national security, while 45.3 percent of those polled said they supported revoking Israeli Arabs' right to vote and hold political office.

About one-quarter of the Jewish public said they would consider voting for an ultra-nationalist party like the outlawed Kach if such a party was to run in the next elections, the survey revealed.

The Mossawa Arab rights center called on Justice Minister Yosef Lapid to sponsor a bill to prevent incitement encouraging Arab Israelis to leave the country. The group also asked Attorney General Menachem Mazuz to ensure enforcement of the law against racist i ncitement.

The poll also examined Israeli attitudes toward illegal foreign workers. The vast majority of respondents - 72.1 percent - supported imposing entry restrictions on the workers. Fifty-four percent said the economic situation was exacerbated by foreign laborers who take the jobs of Israelis.

Research associate Dr. Dafna Kaneti-Nissim said the poll showcases a documented world-wide phenomenon in which people who feel threatened tend to develop hostility toward minorities living among them.

"The public identifies the Israeli-Arab sector with the threat of terror," Kaneti-Nissim said. "The foreign workers are perceived as an economic threat, despite the fact that they do not endanger the jobs of most Israelis."

Professor Gabriel Ben-David supervised the poll, which tabulated the responses of 1,016 Israelis to phone interviews conducted in May.