Israeli Arabs protest in Haifa (archive)
Israeli Arabs protest in Haifa (archive)Israel news photo: Flash 90

Two thirds of Israeli Arabs say they are opposed to Israel's continued existence as a Jewish and Zionist state, a special poll commissioned by Haifa University released this week said. The poll also shows, among other things, that nearly 30% would like to see Israel disappear altogether, and that 38% do not believe that there was a Holocaust.

The poll was directed by Haifa University professor Sami Smooha on behalf of Haifa University's Jewish-Arab Center, part of an annual project by the Center to determine relations between Jews and Arabs in Israel. Smooha will officially present the poll and his analysis of the results at a special conference next Sunday at the Center. Those polled included a scientific sampling of 700 Israeli Arabs 18 years of age and older, including representative samples of the Druze and Bedouin population. The Jewish portion of the poll queried 700 Israeli Jews 18 and over, including new immigrants, Hareidim and residents of Judea and Samaria.

The poll highlighted a clear radicalization of Israeli Arabs. Over 62% said that Israelis “are foreigners who do not fit in in this region, and they will eventually leave the country.” Another 71% said that “the Jews are primarily responsible for the 'nakba,' the term applied to the fleeing of the newly declared state of Israel by tens of thousands of Arabs in 1948.

Perhaps as a reaction to the hostile feelings displayed by Israeli Arabs revealed by the poll, Israeli Jews told pollsters that they felt “distant” from Israeli Arabs. Over 68% of Jews said they felt this distance, and 67.9% said that they avoided driving through Arab towns and villages. Over half, however, said they would have no problem with their boss being Arab, and nearly 60% agreed that the establishment of the State of Israel was a major “tragedy” for Arabs.

In presenting the initial findings of the poll Tuesday, Smooha said that despite the differences, the poll showed that the majority of Jews and Arabs were committed to coexistence.