A report by the Israel Democracy Institute has uncovered shocking levels of racism among the country's Jewish citizens. Dubbed the Democracy Index, the think tank's 2020 report has been released after a leading human rights group branded Israel an apartheid state. The institute found that nearly half of the country's Jewish population support the idea of having ethnically separate communities.
The report, which has been published annually for the past 18 years and was presented to President Reuven Rivlin, found that only 54 per cent of Jews reject the idea that Arabs and Jews in Israel should live in separate communities in order to preserve their respective national identities. In contrast, 77 per cent of Arab Israeli citizens — who make up 20 per cent of the total population — are opposed to having racially segregated communities.
More entrenched racist attitudes were highlighted by the respondents' answer to a question about working in different communities. While 93 per cent of the country's Palestinian population said that they were willing to work in Jewish communities, only 41 per cent of Jews said that they were willing to do the reverse.
Similarly, two-thirds of Jewish respondents (67 per cent) said that they are willing to work under an Arab supervisor, while a huge majority of Palestinian respondents (92 per cent) are willing to work for a Jewish supervisor. "There is a segment of the Jewish public in Israel that is interested in integration with the Arab public, and another segment that seeks separation," the report concluded.
Racist attitudes were also expressed over political decision making. Three-quarters of Jewish Israelis believe that crucial decisions on matters of peace and security should entail a Jewish majority. This figure is more striking when broken down into political groups. As many as 87 per cent of the Israeli right, which has won every Israeli election since 2009, want the country's Jewish population to maintain its monopoly over such decisions.
On questions regarding social integration, a large majority (81 per cent) of Palestinian citizens of Israel and a small majority (57 per cent) of Jews believe that the non-Jewish citizens want to be an integral part of Israeli society.
The image of racism portrayed by the survey reinforces the conclusion of B'Tselem that Israel is an apartheid state. Israel's most prominent human rights group reached this conclusion in a new position paper last week with a follow up article in the Guardian by Executive Director Hagai El-Ad.
"We are Israel's largest human rights group – and we are calling this apartheid" said El-Ad in the piece, arguing that the Zionist state was "working to advance and perpetuate the supremacy of one group of people – Jews – over another – Palestinians."
Following B'Tselem's conclusion, the Guardian also published an editorial where it seemed to concede reluctantly that apartheid was no longer a "prophecy" about where Israel was headed but a "description" of the current reality.