While both Jews and Arabs in Israel are overwhelmingly opposed to living in mixed Jewish-Arab neighborhoods, Arabs have even stronger reservations than Jews. But whereas a significant majority of Arabs favor having their children study together with Jews in mixed schools, most Jews reject the idea.
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These are some of the findings of a study published on Thursday by the Jewish People Policy Institute, an independent think tank based in Jerusalem. This is the second year that JPPI has published its so-called “Pluralism Index,” which attempts to gauge the level of openness among Israelis to diversity. The findings were based on a relatively large sample of 1,300 respondents, with a 5.6 percent error margin for Arabs and 3.1 percent for Jews.
Among Arab respondents, 73 percent were opposed to living in mixed neighborhoods with Jews, while among Jewish respondents, 68 percent were opposed to living in mixed neighborhoods with Arabs. More than 75 percent of the Arab respondents, however, said they “totally” or “slightly” favored having their children study in mixed schools with Jews. Among Jews, just over 45 percent said they viewed this option favorably. The overwhelming majority of Jews and Arabs in Israel study in separate schools. Except for a few mixed cities – Haifa and Acre are prominent examples – Jews and Arabs also tend to live separately.
Among Jews, the study found that nonobservant Israelis were more resistant to living in mixed neighborhoods with ultra-Orthodox Jews than the ultra-Orthodox were to living with nonobservant Israelis. Whereas 49 percent of the ultra-Orthodox questioned said they favored living in mixed neighborhoods with non-observant Jews, barely 20 percent of non-observant Jews wanted to live among the ultra-Orthodox. Among the Arab respondents, Muslim and Christians were overwhelmingly opposed to living together in mixed neighborhoods. Not even one Christian respondent looked favorably upon such an option, while among Muslims, close to 90 percent were opposed.
The respondents were asked to rank different groups according to their contribution to Israeli society. Among Jews, soldiers were ranked at the top of the list and Arab Muslims at the bottom. Other groups at the bottom of the Jewish ranking were settlers, the ultra-Orthodox, Bedouin, Reform Jews and leftists. The Arab respondents ranked themselves at the top of the list and relegated settlers and ultra-Orthodox Jews to the bottom. They also ranked soldiers fairly high up.
The survey found that the vast majority of Jews (close to 90 percent) feel “quite” or “very” comfortable living in Israel as they are, with Orthodox Jews feeling more comfortable than nonobservant Jews and right-wing Jews feeling more comfortable than left-wing Jews. Among Arabs, close to 80 percent said they felt “quite” or “very” comfortable living in Israel as they are, with those who identified primarily as “Arabs” or “Israelis” more comfortable than those who identified as “Palestinians.”
The survey also found that about half of Israelis believe there is too much freedom of press in the country (the percentage was significantly higher among Arabs).