Poll: Many Israeli Jews Don't Trust Arabs - or Their Own Government

The annual Israel Democracy Institute survey reports a 'deepening divide' between the country's Jewish and Arab citizens.

AFP/Gali Tibbon

Many Jewish Israelis don’t trust Arab Israelis, and most Israelis don't trust their government, according to a far-ranging annual survey by an Israeli think tank.

The annual Israel Democracy Index, released Tuesday by the Israel Democracy Institute, found a “deepening divide between Israel’s Jewish and Arab citizens,” IDI President Yohanan Plesner said in a statement. A majority of Israelis, or 59.3 percent, say Arabs are discriminated against.

More than one-third of Jews, at 36 percent,  said they wouldn’t want to live next to an Arab family, while nearly half, or 48.5 percent, said they wouldn’t want to live next to foreign workers. More than 40 percent of Arabs said they would not want to live next to haredi Orthodox Jews, though only 11 percent said they would be bothered by Jewish neighbors of any kind.

Jews also don’t want Arabs influencing state policy. Nearly three-quarters, or 73.6 percent, of Jewish Israelis said decisions on national security should require a Jewish majority. Some 53.6 percent of Jews said social and economic decisions should be decided by a Jewish majority, and 56.6 percent said that Israel’s government shouldn’t include Arab parties or ministers. More than 40 percent of Jewish Israelis believe that Arab Israelis support the state’s destruction.

Distrust of government

The survey also found that little more than one-third of Israelis trust their government, or the Knesset. Less than 20 percent trust Israel’s political parties. More than three-quarters, or 77.7 percent, of Israelis “feel unable to truly influence government policy,” and 54.4 percent say Israeli lawmakers do not work hard enough.

Jewish Israelis reported high levels of trust in President Reuven Rivlin and in the Israel Defense Forces, while Arab Israelis said they trusted Israel’s health and welfare systems, and the Supreme Court. And while they distrust their government, almost three-quarters of Israelis, or 74 percent,  called their personal situation “good” or “very good.”

The survey results “highlight the continued deterioration of the public stake in government institutions, which displays a worrisome pattern of a growing disconnect between the establishment and the public,” Plesner said.

The survey also found what Plesner called a “deepening divide between Israel’s Jewish and Arab citizens.” A majority of Israelis, or 59.3 percent,  say Arabs are discriminated against.

More than one-third of Jews, at 36 percent,  said they wouldn’t want to live next to an Arab family, while nearly half, or 48.5 percent, said they wouldn’t want to live next to foreign workers. More than 40 percent of Arabs said they would not want to live next to haredi Orthodox Jews, though only 11 percent said they would be bothered by Jewish neighbors of any kind.

Jews also don’t want Arabs influencing state policy. Nearly three-quarters, or 73.6 percent, of Jewish Israelis  said decisions on national security should require a Jewish majority. Some 53.6 percent of Jews said social and economic decisions should be decided by a Jewish majority, and 56.6 percent said that Israel’s government shouldn’t include Arab parties or ministers. More than 40 percent of Jewish Israelis believe that Arab Israelis support the state’s destruction.