By Dan Fleshler | March 13, 2007
My inaugural post. Drum roll, please:
A story in yesterday’s Maariv by Yonathan Haleli has gotten no attention in the U.S. It is about a poll of Israeli Arabs and Israeli Jews. It begins on a predictably disturbing note, with responses indicating fear for the future on both sides. But dig a little deeper, and you will find an urge for co-existence and reconciliation that gives me a shred of hope…Not many shreds of hope are available these days.
The money quote from the pollster, Sammy Smooha, is at the end: “The findings of the 2006 index show unequivocally that Arabs in Israel are strongly connected to life in Israel, see their future as part of the state and are not willing by any means to be annexed to a Palestinian state. Since for Jews a Jewish state is a hegemonic idea that must never be renounced, the question is which version of a Jewish-Zionist state can be acceptable to the Jews and fair to the Arabs.”
Here is the article, with translation courtesy of “Israel News Today,” followed by a question from me:
Sixty-eight percent of the Jewish population fears the possibility that Israeli Arabs will begin a popular rebellion, while 63 percent do not go to Arab communities in Israel, according to the Jewish-Arab relations index for 2006. The Arab population has fears of its own: 62 percent of Arab citizens fear the annexation of the Triangle into a Palestinian state as part of a future agreement, while 60 percent fear transfer.
The full index will be presented at the first Haifa Conference for Social Responsibility, which will take place next week at the University of Haifa.The study was conducted by Professor Sammy Smooha, the dean of the Social Sciences Faculty at the university. The index that Smooha developed is based on a poll that was conducted among a national representative sample of 702 Jewish citizens and 721 Arab citizens, who were asked about their positions on various subjects regarding the Jewish-Arab rift. The results indicate a feeling of fear and suspicion on both sides.
Of the Jews, 64.4 percent fear that the Arab citizens endanger national security because of their high birth rate. 71.3 percent fear a change in the Jewish character of the state, while 83.1 percent fear Israeli Arab support of the Palestinians’ struggle. 80.1 percent of the Jews believe that decisions about the state’s character and borders require a majority among the Jews and that a majority among all the citizens is not enough. Seventy percent have a feeling of distance from Arab citizens, while 73 percent believe that most of the Arab citizens will be more loyal to the state of Palestine than to the state of Israel. Five percent believe that citizens who declare themselves “Palestinian citizens in Israel” cannot be loyal to the state.
At the same time, 77.4 percent of the Israeli Arabs fear that their civil rights will be harmed, approximately 80 percent are worried about mass land appropriations, 73.8 percent fear violence on the part of the state and 71.5 percent fear violence on the part of Jewish citizens.
Together with these statistics, which show suspicion and lack of trust, there are findings that indicate a possibility for coexistence between the two peoples. Seventy percent of the Jewish public thinks that both sides have an historical right to the country, 74 percent support the formula of two states for two peoples as a way to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and 65 percent think that the state should take significant measures to reduce the gap between Jewish and Arab citizens.
An attitude of reconciliation may also be found among Arab citizens.75.4 percent agree that Israel within the Green Line has a right to exist as an independent state in which Jews and Arabs live together, and 67.5 percent believe that Israel within the Green Line has a right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state in which Jews and Arabs live together. A comparison to the findings of polls that were conducted in the past shows that over the past 30 years, there is a trend of drawing closer rather than of extremism among both Jews and Arabs. The percentage of Arabs who negate Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish-Zionist state, which reached a peak of 73.1 percent in 2004, decreased to 62.6 percent in 2006. The percentage of Arabs who negate Israel’s right to exist decreased from 20.5 percent in 1976 to 15 percent in 2006.
“It is easy to distort reality with the selective and manipulative use of statistics,” Professor Smooha said. “The findings of the 2006 index show unequivocally that Arabs in Israel are strongly connected to life in Israel, see their future as part of the state and are not willing by any means to be annexed to a Palestinian state. Since for Jews a Jewish state is a hegemonic idea that must never be renounced, the question is which version of a Jewish-Zionist state can be acceptable to the Jews and fair to the Arabs.”
So, what’s the answer? Is it conceivable to create a Jewish-Zionist state that can be acceptable to the Jews and fair to Arabs who live there? The far-left doesn’t think so. And, even if it isn’t conceivable, how close can Israel come to reaching that goal? I would love to hear from people who believe the Jews deserve a state of their own, just one little state, but are also deeply concerned about the rights and the plight of Arab citizens of Israel. —-