Poll: Half of Israelis say negative feelings toward Arabs will never change

Precisely 50% of Israelis polled in a new survey said negative feelings in Israeli society regarding Arab Israelis will never change. And 32% said Arabic should not remain an official language in the country.

The poll, conducted by the US-based Anti-Defamation League, indicated wide divisions among Israelis on a wide range of central issues.

Fifty-one percent said they believe that Diaspora Jews should have “little” or “very little” say in the decision-making process in Israel. And about a fifth of Israelis (21%) blame Jews in the Diaspora for contributing to social division in the country.

About a third of respondents to the poll said negative views in society towards ultra-Orthodox Jews and left-wing Israelis could not be altered — at 37% and 34% respectively.

A large majority of those polled also said they believed Israeli society was deeply divided and would continue to be split for years to come. Among respondents, nearly two-thirds — 64 percent — believed the country was “divided” or “very divided,” with only 7% saying the country was “unified” or “very unified.”

A majority of participants in the poll said the country would remain split well into the future. Asked if Israel would still be divided in 30 years, ahead of the Jewish state’s 100th birthday, 57% predicted it would be “divided” or “very divided.”

A large proportion of respondents to the survey, which was conducted ahead of an ADL conference next week on social cohesion in Israel, expressed a strong distrust in Israel’s politicians and institutions, believing they were deepening divisions.

Asked what was contributing to the divides in Israeli society, 75% said politicians, followed by another 73% percent who said the media, including radio, newspapers, and television. Rabbis and the religious establishment, as well as the “new media” — internet and social media — were said to cause division by 67% of respondents, while another 42% said the legal system was a cause of division. (Respondents were allowed to select more than one factor.)

Asked about a list of personal characteristics that most contribute to Israelis’ views of identity, respondents ranked nationality, gender, religion and political affiliation high. Ethnicity was considered to be the least important.

Carole Nuriel, the head of ADL Israel, said the survey showed there was more of a need “than ever” to bridge the divides in Israeli society.

She also said it was incumbent upon political, religious and sectoral leaders “not only to internalize the results, but to take concrete steps towards immediately placing the social issue at the top of the list of priorities, with the understanding that this is a national challenge.”

The poll was conducted by the Maagar Mohot research institute and was conducted among a representative sample of 510 Israelis. No margin of error was provided.

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