“Let’s see you explain this,” say my friends:
The Israel Democracy Institute released the results of its Israeli Democracy Ranking and poll on Tuesday, revealing that 53 percent of Jewish Israelis say the government should encourage [Israeli] Arabs to emigrate from Israel, and only 51% believe Jews and Arabs should have equal rights. — Jerusalem Post (the poll data is here)
Well, I’m going to try. The usual suspects will claim that this shows that Israeli Jews are racists. But there’s other information in the poll that indicates otherwise. For example,
We … posed the question: “Would it bother you to have as your neighbor: immigrants from the Former Soviet Union; ultra-Orthodox Jews; former settlers; a homosexual couple; foreign workers; an Arab family (asked of Jews)/a Jewish family (asked of Arabs); mentally retarded individuals; Ethiopian immigrants; mentally ill individuals in community treatment; people who do not observe Sabbath or holidays?” … For all groups cited, more than half the Jewish respondents answered that having such a neighbor would not bother them (the average of those who responded that they would be bothered is 23%).
That doesn’t sound very racist to me. But there is one kind of question about Arabs that Jews responded in a uniformly negative way: 70% of Jews disagreed with the statement “In your opinion, should more Arabs be appointed to senior positions in Israel?” 86% of Jews think that a Jewish majority should be required for decisions “fateful to the state,” and 62% that “as long as Israel is in a state of conflict with the Palestinians, the views of Arab citizens of Israel should not be taken into account on security issues.”
What is going on here seems to be that many Israeli Jews have come to believe believe that Arab citizens of Israel do not have the best interests of the Jewish state at heart. Consider that one Israeli Arab member of the Knesset (Azmi Bishara) recently fled the country to escape prosecution for, among other things, providing targeting information to Hizballah during the 2006 war, and another (MK Haneen Zouabi) — sailed on the Mavi Marmara and calls for the dismantling of the Jewish state.
In recent years the degree to which the ‘Israeli Arabs’ (who prefer now to be called ‘Palestinian citizens of Israel’) identify with Israel’s enemies has sharply increased. Sometimes this is expressed violently and sometimes not, sometimes politically — as in Zouabi’s calls for Israel to be ‘de-Zionized’ — and sometimes in the form of criminal activity.
But apparently the periodic riots and other expressions of anti-Zionism have convinced the Jewish public that the experiment in coexistence that is today’s Israel, in which 20% of the population is Arab, is not working as well as Ben-Gurion hoped it would.
In other words: Israeli Jews aren’t racists, they’re just sick of Arab bad behavior.