- On Tuesday, October 23, Israelis awoke to a nasty headline:
- (Image taken from Meretz Party leader Zehava Galon's Facebook page, which was where I saw it for the first time)
Majority of Israelis Support Apartheid Regime in Israel
- The article that both headlines introduced (though not accurately represented by either headline, both of which have since been changed) was disturbing.
- "The survey, conducted by Dialog on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, exposes anti-Arab, ultra-nationalist views espoused by a majority of Israeli Jews," wrote the paper's Gideon Levy. The remainder of the article presents a series of disturbing figures -- including apparent support for discrimination in a range of areas -- painting a portrait of a society that is absolutely, irredeemably racist.
- Levy's piece was accompanied by an op-ed -- also by Levy -- that purported to analyze the survey's findings and their significance. Its title: "Apartheid without shame or guilt: That's just the way we are." "We're racists, the Israelis are saying, we practice apartheid and we even want to live in an apartheid state. Yes, this is Israel," Levy wrote. "It's good to live in this country, most Israelis say, not despite its racism, but perhaps because of it."
- The articles were widely reported and were welcomed by some with barely-disguised glee. "It's official, most Israelis want to live in an 'apartheid state'," announced Mondoweiss originally. "The new Israeli apartheid," blared The Independent. "Most Israeli Jews want Apartheid state," declared Hezbollah-affiliated Al Akhbar. Many simply parroted the original Haaretz headline.
- But Levy's strident tone left me wondering whether he was telling the whole story. So I approached a number of the organizations and individuals involved in commissioning the survey. One of the individuals I contacted was Professor Amiram Goldblum, who holds a chair in pharmaceutical chemistry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is also active in various left-wing causes and has signed a number of controversial petitions. Prof. Goldblum was quoted in the Hebrew version of the article as "one of those who commissioned the survey." He kindly shared the full findings with me and openly shared his thoughts, as well.
- The survey included 17 questions, which were presented to a sample of 503 individuals, who were divided by population segments -- secular, traditional, religious, haredi (ultra-Orthodox), and "Russian" (immigrants from the former Soviet Union). Here, for the first time, are the findings in full (Hebrew):
- Let us compare the survey findings with the picture painted by Gideon Levy.
- One of the more striking passages in Levy's op-ed was this one:
- The majority doesn't want Arabs to vote for the Knesset, Arab neighbors at home or Arab students at school. Let our camp be pure - as clean of Arabs as possible and perhaps even more so.
- Interestingly, Levy doesn't make those claims in the original article. Perhaps because they are patently false. Here are the relevant passages from the article:
A third of the Jewish public wants a law barring Israeli Arabs from voting for the Knesset.
- 42 percent don't want to live in the same building with Arabs.
- 42 percent don't want their children in the same class with Arab children.
- Better, yet still disturbing (and frankly strange that he would contradict himself in two pieces published on the same day, in the same paper).
- But what do the actual findings show?
- Here are the relevant questions and responses from the survey: