Israeli Jews More Tolerant of Islam than Swiss Citizens

Israelis, particularly religious Jewish Israelis, are more tolerant of Islamic religious needs than Swiss citizens, a new survey finds.

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Hana Levi Julian, | updated: 17:10

Minarets in Europe
Minarets in Europe
Israel news photo: (file)

Israeli Jews – whether religious, traditional or secular – are more tolerant than voters in Switzerland of Islamic rights, according to a recent survey conducted on behalf of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding (FFEU).


The telephone poll, conducted by Keevoon Research in conjunction with Mutagim, surveyed 500 Jewish Israelis in the last week of December 2009 and the first week of January 2010. It found that 43 percent of Israeli respondents would oppose legislation banning construction of minarets on mosques built in the Jewish State. Only 28 percent would have supported a minaret ban, while 29 percent said they were undecided.


The survey compared the responses of Israelis with those of Swiss voters who last November approved a referendum banning construction of minarets on mosques in Switzerland. More than half of the voters – 57.5 percent – cast their ballots to oppose the religious Islamic towers that are used to broadcast the Muslim daily prayers.


Israelis, however, appear to be far more tolerant of their Islamic neighbors – especially religious Jews.


The strongest opposition to banning minarets came from those in the National Religious sector, with 72 percent saying they were against such a restriction and 55 percent saying they were “strongly” opposed. Among hareidi-religious Jews, 53 percent were opposed to any ban. Forty-two percent of secular Israelis and 36 percent of “traditional” Israelis also opposed the idea.


Support for a ban was minimal among all of the groups, but highest among “traditional” Jews, (31 percent), followed closely by secular Jews (29 percent). Only 21 percent of hareidi-religious Jews and 16 percent of National Religious Jews said they would be in favor of blocking construction of minarets on mosques in Israel.


FFEU president Rabbi Marc Schneier noted that “When it comes to freedom of religion, Israelis are apparently much more tolerant than their Swiss counterparts,” adding “There is a definite correlation between religious observance and tolerance towards Islam.” Schneier said the survey seemed to indicate that “from the Israeli point of view, there is room for respectful coexistence between Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs when it is based on religion and not politics.”


The poll had a margin of error +/- 4.5 percent.