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Poll: Israelis Say They Are More Alike Than Not

Researchers find that Israelis perceive fewer differences among themselves than in previous years.
By Hana Levi Julian
First Publish: 4/7/2010, 3:55 PM / Last Update: 4/7/2010, 6:57 PM

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Israelis say there are fewer differences among themselves than before, according to the findings of a survey conducted on the eve of the Moroccan-Jewish post-Passover festival of Mimouna.

Although the festival emphasizes the customs of the Jews who immigrated to Israel from Morocco, as well as other North African countries, researchers found that Israeli Jews did not believe their ethnic origin set them apart from others.

The telephone poll of a random sample of 500 adult Israeli Jews was conducted by the Maagar Mohot (Brain Base) Survey Institute during the week before Passover, ending March 31.

The study found that more than half of those surveyed, 56 percent, believed that members of the Moroccan community contribute to Israeli society in terms of culture and arts at about the same level as any other ethnic group. At the same time, only 44 percent believe Moroccans contribute as much as others in education and academic pursuits. Respondents were about equally split as to whether Moroccans are more involved than others in of crime and violence; a quarter of respondents did not relate to that question.

Whether immigrants were discriminated against when they arrived in Israel from Morocco during the 1950s and 1960s was another area explored in the survey.

Moroccan respondents were nearly unanimous – 93 percent – that members of their ethnic group suffered from discrimination when they arrived in the 50's and 60's as compared to other immigrants and those born in Israel. Other respondents in the survey agreed with less vehemence, by 67 percent to 16 percent, that Moroccan immigrants suffered discrimination at that time as compared to those born in Israel.

However, most tellingly about current Israeli society, nearly two-thirds of respondents – 64 percent – said there is no discrimination today in Israel against Jews from Morocco. Half of the respondents who were Moroccan agreed with the statement.

In fact, 80 percent of the Moroccan respondents and 83% of the general respondents had never personally experienced or seen any ethnic discrimination at all.

Two-Thirds: OK to Marry Ethiopian
Nearly two-thirds of the Israeli public agreed that it would be acceptable for their children to marry a member of the Ethiopian community. An even higher percentage, 77 percent, agreed to accept a prospective son or daughter-in-law who immigrated from Russia or the former Soviet Union. Candidates from the Moroccan community were yet more popular: 82 percent of respondents agreed to their child marrying a Jew of Moroccan ancestry. Ashkenazim still face a few diehards who want their children to marry within their community, but 92 percent of those surveyed said they would agree to their children marrying a Jew with Ashkenazi roots.

What is the future for maintaining the tradition of the Moroccan Jewish ethnicity? Only 51 percent said they keep the traditions of their ancestry frequently.