A majority of Israeli Jews (58%) believe that there is apartheid in Israel today according to an opinion poll published by Haaretz this Tuesday. The poll has received wide attention in the international press and sparked a great deal of controversy.

The poll further finds that a majority of Israeli Jews would support a number of discriminating policies against Palestinians in Israel if the West Bank was formally annexed by Israel, with 69% objecingt to giving Palestinians the right to vote. However, only 38% supports annexation with 48% opposed.

The poll further finds support for discriminating policies in Israel regardless of an annexation of the West Bank. These included giving preference to Jews over Arabs in public jobs (59%), objection to Jewish children going to the same schools as Arabs (42%), and support for separate roads for Jews and Palestinians in the West Bank (74%).

The poll represents a new contribution to the ongoing debate over Israel and the apartheid analogy. Irrespectively of our position in this debate, we should ask ourselves what the consequences of such labeling are? Will labeling do anything to help solve the conflict, or will it simply contribute to increase polarization between Israeli Jews and Palestinians?

The situation in Israel-Palestine is obviously a cause for great concern. The fact that a majority of Israeli Jews believe that Israel is an apartheid regime and at the same time support discriminating policies against Palestinians highlights the magnitude of the situation.


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Tags: democracy, peace, politics, rights, security


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Comment by David Harold Chester on November 11, 2012 at 12:04pm

What has the Israeli relationship with the Palestinians have to do with appartite within Israel? Let us firstly examine the situation without introducing the Palestinians into the picture.

In Israel there are a number of minorities most of whom have a degree of opposition to the way the Israeli government chooses to run the country. It does its best, and in particular it provides a very comprehensive service for health, both private and public, and for help in education. But some of these minorities are not willing (nor able) to make a fair or reasonable contribution to the state, like for example, paying income tax or serving in the army. There seems to be an understanding that equality of rights does not equlilbrate with equality of obligations and responsibilities. Israel is not alone in facing this problem, but as a consequence there is very little reason to doubt that the minority parties will get somewhat different treatment in regard to certain regular citizen priviliges and rights.

To consider these differences as appartitite is an exaggeration, and our sensational press seem to think it is useful to do so. What is really happenning is a good deal less separatist than this, but clearly it is far from being neglegable as the concensus has shown. I would like to see an example of a minority group living in a country where no difference is made. In some places the difference is a lot greater than here in Israel, we don't have sections of buses, public benches nor clinics which are separatist. These were the symbols of South African appartite and they are far more extreem that what is being practiced here today inspite of the public view, which in my opinion is inappropriately named by the press.

Now regarding the Palestinians it should be rememberd that their formal credo is STILL the elimination of the Jewish State! In spite of the various attitudes taken by Abu Mazen as leader, his double standard for the local population and for the world does not exactly endear us to having his people in our midst, nor in sharing with them the benefits that have come from 64 difficult years of soverignty. A people who have not seriously attempted to make peace with an occupying country and who still seek by acts of terror against its civilians to further postpone the chances for talks and compromises, are unlikely to get the same kind of treatment as minority citizens living peacefully within defined and secure boarders. Let the Palestinians put away their threats and claims for preconditions and doubt-spreading as to their sincerity, and let them come to a two-state compromise before anybody in his sane mind can honestly speak of not having appartitite between these different peoples!

Comment by Rasmus Sinding Søndergaard on October 28, 2012 at 6:25am

A friend of mine drew my attention to one of the many reactions to the poll. It has some interesting remarks about the conclusions made in the original article that I think is worth sharing.


First, this article acknowledges that discrimination against Palestinians is taking place, but argues that the finding that 58% of Israeli Jews believe that Israel is an apartheid regime is mistaken and misleading.

Secondly, it argues that "Most Israeli Jews really do object, and rightly so, to letting the 2.5 million Arabs in the territories vote in Knesset elections, because that means the end of Israel as a Jewish state and the end of the Zionist dream. But the same majority is also unwilling to live in a country with an "apartheid regime," so it opposes the annexation of territories. That's the survey's most important finding, and its conclusion is exactly the opposite of what's written in the article's headline."

@Nahuel: Thank you for your comments and insights. I share your hopes for a liberal Israeli state with liberal neighbors.

Comment by Nahuel Maisley on October 25, 2012 at 12:44pm

Very interesting, Rasmus!

I think the problem lies within the very idea of the state of Israel. On the one hand, it is a state that struggles to be a "modern democracy", and with that, it tries to differentiate itself from its Arab neighbors. Israel is proud to have freedom of speech, free elections, important social policies, etc., and that is very valuable. But on the other hand, it is a state created for a particular nation, and that creates big problems in terms of the liberal and multicultural character that societies must adopt to be considered "modern democracies". It is impossible to be "the Jewish state" and a "liberal state" at the same time, it is just contradictory.

The interesting thing is that this contradiction arouse as a result of the treatment the Jews received from non-liberal states in the first half of the twentieth century. Hence, -and this is very paradoxical- I think that Israel will only be able to become a liberal state only if its neighbors do so first. If Jews are treated as equals in most states of the world, there will be no need for a "Jewish state", just as there is no need for a "Catholic state" or a "Protestant state" nowadays.

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