A Poll sponsored by the Center for the Campaign Against Racism found that half the Jewish population of Israel believe the state should encourage Arab emigration.

The poll, conducted by the Geocartography Institute and presented Tuesday at a press conference, found a sharp increase in the number of Israeli Jews who support Arab emigration in comparison to a similar poll conducted last year.

The poll was carried out in December 2006, and included 500 participants. The margin of error is 4.4 percent.

In addition, the poll addresses the Jewish reaction to hearing the Arabic language spoken on the streets of Israel. According to the data, some 50 percent of the participants said they become fearful when they hear the Arabic language spoken around them. 43 percent said they feel uncomfortable, and 30 percent feel hatred. In contrast, last year only 17.5 percent said they feel hatred when faced with spoken Arabic.

The poll participants were also asked about work relations with Arabs. 50 percent said they would refuse to work at a job in which their direct supervisor would be Arab. This number represents a 47 percent increase since the 2005 poll on the same topic.

Center for the Campaign Against Racism director Baher Awdeh called on the state of Israel on Tuesday to "wake up" in light of these findings, and utilize its judicial and education systems to combat this rise in racist sentiments. Awdeh said that the fact that Israel is defined as the "Jewish state" is discriminatory against Arabs in and of itself. "Jewish citizens interpret this definition to mean that they are superior or entitled to more rights than Arab citizens," he said.

Awdeh offered his explanation for the deterioration of Jewish-Arab relations, saying the war in Lebanon, and the opposing views it generated among Jewish and Arab citizens, could have contributed to the deterioration. Another reason could be the entry of Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) to the coalition, being a politician known for his anti-Arab views. He added that Israel's policy of expropriating Palestinian lands and destroying Palestinian homes may have also contributed to the problem.

"When Sheikh Raed Salah said what he said in Jerusalem, he was immediately arrested and indicted. But when Jewish religious figures and politicians express anti-Arab views, no indictments are filed, even months later," Awdeh said.