Friday, 12 March 2010
Poll: Half of Israeli high schoolers oppose equal rights for Arabs
By Or Kashti
Nearly half of Israel's high school students do not believe that Israeli-Arabs are entitled to the same rights as Jews in Israel, according to the results of a new survey released yesterday. The same poll revealed that more than half the students would deny Arabs the right to be elected to the Knesset.
The survey, which was administered to teenagers at various Israeli high schools, also found that close to half of all respondents - 48 percent - said that they would refuse orders to evacuate outposts and settlements in the Palestinian territories.
Nearly one-third - 31 percent - said they would refuse military service beyond the Green Line.
The complete results of the poll will be presented today during an academic discussion hosted jointly by Tel Aviv University's School of Education and the Citizens' Empowerment Center in Israel. The symposium will focus on various aspects of civic education in the country.
"Jewish youth have not internalized basic democratic values," said Prof. Daniel Bar-Tal, one of the conference organizers.
The poll was commissioned last month by Maagar Mochot, an Israeli research institution, under the supervision of Prof. Yitzhak Katz. It took a sampling of 536 Jewish and Arab respondents between the ages of 15-18.
The survey sought to gauge youth attitudes toward the State of Israel; their perspective on new immigrants and the state's Arab citizens; and their political stances.
The results paint a picture of youth leaning toward political philosophies that fall outside the mainstream.
In response to the question of whether Arab citizens should be granted rights equal to that of Jews, 49.5 percent answered in the negative. The issue highlighted the deep fault lines separating religious and secular youths, with 82 percent of religious students saying they opposed equal rights for Arabs while just 39 percent of secular students echoed that sentiment.
The secular-religious gap was also present when students were faced with the question of whether Arabs should be eligible to run for office in the Knesset. While 82 percent of those with religious tendencies answered in the negative, 47 percent of secular teens agreed. In total, 56 percent said Arabs should be denied this right altogether.
The survey also delved into the issue of military service and following orders that are deemed politically divisive.
While an overwhelming majority (91 percent) expressed a desire to enlist in the Israel Defense Forces, 48 percent said they would not obey an order to evacuate outposts and settlements in the West Bank.
Here, too, researchers note the religious nexus. Of those who would refuse evacuation orders, 81 percent categorize themselves as religious as opposed to 36 percent who are secular.
"This poll shows findings which place a huge warning signal in light of the strengthening trends of extremist views among the youth," said an Education Ministry official.
The survey, which also revealed that a relatively high number of youth plan on voting and that democracy is still the preferred system of government, indicates "a gap between the consensus on formal democracy and the principles of essential democracy, which forbid the denial of rights to the Arab population," the official said.
"The differences in positions between secular and religious youth, which are only growing sharper from a demographic standpoint, need to be of concern to all of us because this will be the face of the state in another 20-30 years," said Bar-Tal. "There is a combination of fundamentalism, nationalism, and racism in the worldview of religious youth."