Pew Survey: Almost half of Israeli Jews Back ‘Expulsion’ or ‘Transfer’ of Arabs

But on the other hand almost half - 46 percent - of Israeli Jews 'strongly disagree' or 'disagree' with the idea.


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Israeli Jews divided on the status of Arabs

48 percent of the Israeli Jews are in favor of transferring or expelling the state’s Arab population, a Pew Research Center’s survey on “Israel’s Religiously Divided Society” has found.

45 percent of Israeli Jews say that a Palestinian state cannot exist alongside Israel, while 43 percent believe that one can: strongly agree (21%) or agree (27%), while a similar share disagree (29%) or strongly disagree (17%).

Datiim are especially likely to favor the expulsion of Arabs. Roughly seven-in-ten (71%) say Arabs should be transferred.

Hilonim lean in the other direction: Most (58%) disagree and say Arabs should not be expelled from Israel, including 25% who strongly disagree. But even among these self-described secular Israeli Jews, about one-third (36%) favor the expulsion of Arabs from the country.

According to the report, Jews constitute about 81 percent of the country’s population; non-Jews, the vast majority Arabs, constitute 19 percent. There are 8.4 million people living in Israel total.

Jewish Israelis are deeply divided socially, religiously and politically

Jewish Israelis are deeply divided socially, religiously and politically, and are to a large extent tightly stratified within their particular societal sector.

The 237-page report, which was released today and includes interviews with 5, 600 Israelis conducted from October 2014 to May 2015, references some the country’s long-running secular-religious war: fights over public transportation on the Sabbath, gender segregation on buses, Orthodox control of marriage, divorce and conversion, and military service for the ultra-Orthodox.

Secular Israelis comprise the largest sector, totalling 40% of Israel’s total, population, traditional Israelis are 23%, religious-Zionists 10%, and haredim were 8%, while 14% of the population is Muslim, 2% Christian, and 2% Druze. In total, the Israeli population is 81% Jewish, 19% non-Jewish.

According to the study, 95% of Haredi Jews and 93% of secular Jews have a spouse from the same subgroup, while 85% of religious-Zionist Jews have religious-Zionist spouse.

Traditional Israelis were the only sector to have a somewhat higher rate of intermarriage with other Jewish groups, with approximately 33% of traditional Israelis marrying a religious-Zionist or secular Jew, and 64% of this group marrying within their sector.

There is very little inter-marriage between haredi, religious-Zionist, traditional and secular Jews, and little societal interaction between the different sectors as well.

In fact, the survey finds that secular Jews in Israel are more uncomfortable with the notion that a child of theirs might someday marry an ultra-Orthodox Jew then they are with the prospect of their child marrying a Christian.

And the large majority of Israeli Jews do not have friends outside of their sector. Eight-nine percent of haredi respondents said that most of their close friends are also Haredi Jews, 72 percent of religious-Zionists said most of their close friends were religious-Zionist, and 90 of secular Jews said their friends were mostly secular.

Additionally, the large majority of haredi and religious-Zionist Jews would be uncomfortable with their children marrying a secular person, 95% and 81% respectively, while 93% of secular people would feel the same if their child marries a haredi person and 83% feeling the same if their child married a religious-Zionist person.

These figures are similar to the amount of Israelis Jews who would be uncomfortable for their child to marry a non-Jew, with 97% of Jews who would not be comfortable if their child married a Muslim and 89% saying they would be uncomfortable if they married a Christian.

There is also little societal switching, with the majority of haredi, secular and traditional Israeli Jews remaining in the same religious sector they were raised in.

People raised in the religious-Zionist sector were however much more inclined to identity with a different sector, predominantly the traditional population, with 35% of those saying they were raised in the sector identifying as tradition, 5% saying they were secular and 5% saying they were haredi.

In their attitude to the relationship of religion and politics in public life, the majority of the population, 62%, valued democracy above Jewish law when the two come into conflict, compared to almost a quarter of the Jewish population, 24%, who said Jewish law should be favored in such an instance.

However, Israel’s different sub-sectors see this issue very differently. Fully 89% of haredi Jews think Jewish law should be preferred, as do 65% of religious-Zionist Jews and almost a quarter of traditional Israelis, 23%.

But secular Israeli Jews are overwhelmingly opposed to favoring Jewish law over democracy, with 89% saying they opposed the notion.

And a third of Israeli Jews, 36%, feel that government policies should promote religious beliefs and values in Israel, although 60% oppose.

Once again, haredi and religious-Zionist Jews were very much in favor of the idea, and secular Israelis opposed.

But a majority of traditional Israelis supported the notion that the government should promote religious beliefs and values, with 51% favouring such a position and 46% saying religious should be kept separate from government policy.

A majority of Israeli Jews, 48% agreed that Arabs should be expelled or transferred from Israel, with 46% disagreeing.

Opinion on this was split decisively on political lines, 87% of the ideologically left opposing expulsion or transfer, 54% of centrists opposing it, 37% of centrist supporting transfer, and 72% of the ideologically right in favour.

In addition, 79% if Israeli Jews said that Jews deserve preferential treatment in Israel, including 97% of Haredim and 96% of religious-Zionists, 85% of traditional Israelis and even 69% of secular Israelis.

Pew’s study also highlighted high levels of support for the application of religious law in Israel, with a quarter of Israeli Jews favoring Jewish law over democracy if the two should clash, and a third of Israelis supporting the idea that government policies should promote religious beliefs and values.

The report also looked at how Israeli Jews identify as Jews. Ninety percent of Jews said that being Jewish is important or somewhat important to them, 93% said they were proud to be Jewish and 88% said they feel a strong sense of belonging to the Jewish people.

However, there was little agreement as to what the most important components of Jewish identity are.

The idea which was most widely seen as critical to Jewish identity was remembering the Holocaust, with 67% of respondents indicating it as a an essential part of what it means to be Jewish to them.

Forty-seven percent of respondents said leading an ethical and moral life was important, 35% said observing Jewish law, 33% said living in Israel, 27% said working for justice, 18% said eating traditional Jewish food, and 16% said being intellectually curious.

Observing Jewish law as an essential component of being Jewish was much higher in the haredi and religious-Zionist communities than the general populace, while living in Israel was higher in the religious-Zionist sector than the groups.

In terms of religious devotion, or even a feeling that religion is important, a majority of Jews, 56%, say religion is very important or somewhat important in their lives, whereas 44% said it was not too important, or not at all important to them.

Similarly, 50% of Israeli Jews said they never pray, compared to 21% who pray daily and 29% who pray weekly, monthly, or seldom.

Forty-three percent of secular Israeli Jews fasted all day or some of the day on Yom Kippyur, as well as 89% of traditioanl Israelis and almost all religious-Zionist and haredi Jews.

Attendance at a Passover seder service was almost universal, with 87% of secular Israelis, 97% of traditional Israelis, 99% of the religious-Zionists and 100% of haredi Israelis participating in this central Jewish ritual.

Pew’s study also show high levels of support for the application of religious law in Israel, with a quarter of Israeli Jews favoring Jewish law over democracy if the two should clash, and a third of Israelis supporting the idea that government policies should promote religious beliefs and values.

Israeli Jews V Jews in US

There are deep connections between the world’s two largest Jewish populations. 70 percent of American Jews say they are either very or somewhat attached to Israel, and more than 80 percent say that caring about Israel is either an essential or important part of what being Jewish means to them. 69 percent of Israeli Jews say the diaspora is central to Jewish survival.

But there are also some key differences. For instance, Israeli Jews overall are more religiously observant than US Jews. 57 percent of US Jews eat pork and Torah study more popular. Jewish Americans also makes comparisons between Jews in Israel and Jews in the United States.

Only 29 percent of Israeli Jews have college degrees, compared to 58 percent of American Jews.

Israeli Jews identified their country’s most-pressing long-term problems as economic issues (39 percent) and security (38 percent). Nearly two-thirds of American Jews (66 percent), however, cited security — perhaps an indication of the type of coverage the Israeli-Palestinian conflict tends to receive in the U.S. media — and a mere 1 percent said economic issues. About 15 percent of Jews in both countries said social, religious or political issues are the biggest problems facing Israel.

On issues of Jewish identity, Israeli Jews and American Jews part ways too. Nearly 70 percent of U.S. Jews say living an ethical and moral life is key to their Jewish identity; 47 percent of Israeli Jews say so. And 56 percent of American Jews say working for justice and equality is central to their Jewish identity; in Israel 27 percent of the Jewish population thinks so. Nearly half of American Jews say intellectual curiosity is part of what it means to be Jewish, while 16 percent of Israeli Jews think it is. The gulf is even wider on whether having a sense of humor is important to one’s Jewish identity, with 42 percent of American Jews and only 9 percent of Israeli Jews saying it is.

But nearly twice as many Israeli Jews as American Jews see observing Jewish law as essential to being Jewish (35 percent to 19 percent). And 53 percent of Israeli Jews say providing a Jewish education to their children is central to their Jewish identity.

Regarding the American support for Jerusalem, there are yet more divisions. More than half of Israeli Jews (52 percent) think Israel should be getting more support from Washington, and 34 percent think the support is about right. For American Jews, those figures are reversed: 54 percent say the support is about right, while 31 percent say U.S. support should be greater. (Fifty-three percent of Orthodox Jews say the U.S. is not supportive enough of Israel.)

 

Israel democratic and Jewish state

Israeli Jews aren’t just polarized religiously. On the major question of whether Israel can be both a democratic and Jewish state, Three out of four Israelis say that yes, in fact, it can.

When it comes to Israeli Arabs, nearly two-thirds say Israel cannot be both a democracy and a Jewish state at the same time. In another mirror-image finding, 79 percent of Israeli Arabs say there is a lot of discrimination in Israeli society against Muslims, while 3-in-4 Israeli Jews say they don’t see much discrimination against Muslims. In addition, nearly half of Israeli Jews say Arabs should be expelled or transferred from Israel.

These societal realities in Israel reach across the Atlantic, too, and affect attitudes among American Jews. (The figures for American Jews in the current survey, “Israel’s Religiously Divided Society, ” were culled from Pew’s 2013 study, “A Portrait of Jewish Americans.”)

But when politics enters into the equation, the differences between the two groups — and between the Orthodox and non-Orthodox here — begin to emerge, and in stark ways.

On the contentious issue of Israel’s settlement-building in the West Bank, 42 percent of Israeli Jews believe continued construction helps the country’s security. For American Jews, that figure stands at 17 percent, with 44 percent saying the settlements hurt Israel’s security. (Thirty-four percent of Orthodox Jews say settlements help Israel’s security; 15 percent of non-Orthodox Jews say so.)

About whether Israel’s government is making a sincere effort to achieve peace with the Palestinians, the divides are also great. Fifty-six percent of Israeli Jews believe that Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition is making a sincere effort, while only 38 percent of American Jews believe so. (Sixty-one percent of Orthodox Jews say the Israeli government is making a sincere effort.) In addition, 61 percent of American Jews think a two-state solution is possible, a view held by only 43 percent of Israeli Jews. (Only 30 percent of Orthodox Jews believe it is possible.)

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