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Just a reminder: Israel's increasingly racist public opinion

Image of settlement consruction work in West Bank, Israel on 7th February 2017 [Wisam Hashlamoun/Apaimages
Settlement construction work in the West Bank [Wisam Hashlamoun/Apaimages

While preparing this article, I couldn't resist the temptation of presenting the results of a new public opinion poll conducted in Israel on the occasion of a Qatari educational conference being held soon. This poll showed that the overwhelming majority of those in Israel are "not prepared" for their children to attend ethnically mixed schools.

The polls suggest that the most "unprepared" group of people are the Palestinians living in the territories occupied in 1948, followed by the Haredi Jews (orthodox Jews). According to the pollsters, these results indicate an escalation in the ethnic centrality, racist positions and the need to educate the families before the children.

I believe the presentation of this poll as "giving into temptation" because the thing we can believe in the most in this poll is that "there is nothing new under the sun", although this is just a reminder and states the obvious.

Read: Two faces to the settlements

It is very easy to find an example illustrating these positions. For example, nearly ten years ago, the settlers living in the Kfar Vradim settlement located in the Galilee played Western classical music on loudspeakers as a response to the Eastern music coming from neighbouring Palestinian towns, especially from Tarshiha.

Israeli outlet Yedioth Ahronoth published a story about the incident and accompanied it with a public opinion poll that indicated that over 85 per cent of Israelis believe that the settlement's actions were a suitable response to an angering phenomenon and only 15 per cent considered the behaviour to be arrogant and disregarding of the culture of the others living in the country.

On the one hand, this incident expresses the "Zionist self-perception" which stems from the general Western self-perception. On the other, this expresses the negative Zionist perception of the Palestinian presence. Of course, we can notice, at the same time, the use of language reflecting innocence, such as the use of the phrase "the other people who live in the country".

Read: Israeli settlement operations in West Bank continue

It is through this negative perception that the Palestinians are imagined in the minds of those living in Israel. This is the same image illustrated by other systematic indicators and polls. It has become an exposed secret that the majority of the people in Israel are following a path that leads to the increase of racist tendencies, and the results of the latest elections in 2015 is undeniable proof of this.

Also, nearly ten years ago, the Knesset Channel broadcast the results of a poll that showed 75 per cent of Jewish residents support the expulsion of the Palestinians living in the areas occupied in 1948 to the prospective Palestinian state in the context of any "peace agreement". Among this 75 per cent, 28 per cent said that all of the Palestinians living in the areas occupied in 1948 should be expelled, while 19 per cent said they support the expulsion of those living in the Triangle area. Also, 28 per cent said that the expulsion should occur on the basis of loyalty or lack thereof to the occupying state. Most Jews said that these Palestinians' right to stay in their homes is not a given.

In response to the Arab MK's objection to the Knesset Channel's conduction of such a poll and it asking the public to express their opinion regarding the expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland, the channel's general manager said the issue is listed in the general political agenda. Parties in the Knesset, as well as non-parliamentary movements have and continue to raise the issue of expelling the Palestinians in Israel as part of their political programmes, on the basis of which they run in the general election.

If we continue to list past evidence as a "reminder", we should mention that in another poll conducted about ten years ago on the occasion of a special day in the Knesset addressing "the rights of the Jewish majority in the Negev and Galilee", a third of the Jewish participants said that "By the time Israel's eightieth independence day occurs, a security separation wall will be constructed between Jewish and non-Jewish towns in the Negev, similar to the wall in the West Bank". The majority of those who believe in this scenario are young people aged 18-34 years!

Translated from Arabi21, 8 March 2017.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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