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Israel an apartheid state? A majority of Jews say yes

Published time: October 24, 2012 09:42
Edited time: October 24, 2012 13:42
AFP Photo / Said Khatib

AFP Photo / Said Khatib

A majority of Israeli Jews admit they are living in an apartheid state, a recent survey claimed. Many also believed that Palestinians should be denied the right to vote, and suggested that Jewish citizens should be given preferential treatment.

­Some 500 Jewish adults took part in the survey, answering questions put together by a group of civil rights activists and academics, Haaretz newspaper reported on Tuesday. The survey’s findings revealed that 39 percent of respondents believe there is a ‘slight’ form of apartheid in the country, while 19 percent admit that there is ‘heavy’ apartheid.

A different question suggested that the number of those in favor of ethnic segregation is higher, with 74 percent of those surveyed in favor of separate roads for Jews and Arabs in the West Bank.

On the contentious issue of the West Bank, 38 percent of respondents wanted to annex the territories with settlements, and 48 percent opposed that policy. A followup question on voting rights for Palestinians saw 69 percent of respondents in favor of denying 2.5 million of Palestinians the vote if West Bank territories were annexed.

More than a half of those questioned said Jews should be given preference over Arabs when applying for jobs in the government sector. And slightly under half favored legalized discrimination of Arabs, saying that the state should “treat Jewish citizens better than Arab ones.”

­The term ‘apartheid’ emerged in South Africa in the late 1940s, when the country’s ruling National Party introduced a policy of strict segregation and the racially based denial of human rights.

Under apartheid, black South Africans were largely disenfranchised, and forced to use separate beaches, buses, hospitals, schools and universities. Mixed marriages were denied and even subjected to persecution.

The survey also revealed that people of ultra-religious views demonstrated more discriminatory attitudes, with 82 percent saying Jews should be given preferential treatment over Arabs. Secular responders generally expressed more pluralistic views.

In its report, Haaretz claimed that the survey was initiated by the New Israeli Fund, a US-based NGO. But the NIF denied any involvement, saying the poll “was not commissioned or sponsored or in any way related to the New Israel Fund,” but set up by Goldblum Fund, an organization with which it had only indirect links.

The Israeli press generally reacted with outrage to the results, questioning the survey’s methodology and its coverage in Haaretz.

“The Haaretz article acknowledged that the survey conductors say perhaps the term ‘apartheid’ was not clear enough to some interviewees,” The Times of Israel said on Tuesday. The newspaper also noted that the reporting on the survey results and the followup opinion piece were both written by Gideon Levy, “a Haaretz columnist known for fierce criticism of Israeli policies regarding the Palestinians.”

The Jewish Chronicle lashed out at Levy, saying he “deliberately fed the international media a skewed and biased reading of a poll, in order to promote his treachery.”

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