A growing majority of Israel’s Jews are beginning to see the country’s Arab citizenry as a fifth column.
According to a survey conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute, a slim majority of 53 percent supported government incentives that would encourage Arabs to emigrate from Israel, either to the Palestinian Authority or elsewhere.
Former Israeli Arab MK and Balad party head Azmi Bishara fled Israel in 2007 while under investigation on suspicion of providing information to Hizbullah terrorists on strategic targets in Israel during the 2006 Second Lebanon War. He has thus far received more than half a million shekels from the state in retirement payments because he was never tried and convicted.
Sheikh Raed Salah is another Israeli Arab threat to the nation’s security, one that Israel continues to suffer despite Jordan’s decision to bar him and his deputy from its borders. Saleh is head of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement, which is part of the Muslim Brotherhood movement that spawned the Hamas terrorist organization. The Islamic Movement, which refers to all of Israel as “occupied territory,” is nevertheless allowed to operate openly in the democratic State of Israel, and several of its leaders have been elected by the Israeli Arab population to the Knesset.
Despite the numerous instances of divided loyalties by Israeli Arabs, the Knesset this week transferred NIS 350 million to the coffers of the Ministry of Minority Affairs for a project to help more Arab students meet acceptance standards for colleges and universities in Israel.
The results of the annual survey, which measures attitudes about democracy and tolerance in Israel, were released Tuesday after being presented to President Shimon Peres.
The survey also found that 62 percent of Jews believe that as long as Israel and the Palestinian Authority are not at peace, “it is forbidden to take into account the views of Israel’s Arab citizens on issues of security and foreign affairs.”
Slightly less than half of Jewish respondents – 46 percent -- said they would not want to live next door to Arab neighbors. The same percentage said they would not want neighbors with cognitive disabilities, either; 39 percent did not want to live near foreign workers, 25 percent preferred not to live next door to homosexuals and 23 percent did not want hareidi-religious neighbors.
The Arab public was less tolerant, with 70 percent of respondents saying they did not want to live next to homosexuals, and 67 percent opposing hareidi-religious Jewish neighbors. A similar percentage – 65 percent – said they would be opposed to having neighbors who had formerly lived in Gaza, Judea or Samaria. Slightly less than half, 48 percent, said the most tolerable neighbors would be foreign workers.