Jewish and Arab Israelis do not want to live in same neighborhoods, survey finds

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A majority of Jewish Israelis and Arab Israelis feel comfortable living in Israel as “who they are,” but do not think they should live together in the same neighborhoods, a new survey finds.

The Jewish People Policy Institute, or JPPI, on Wednesday released its second annual Pluralism Index.

The index, according to JPPI President Avinoam Bar-Yosef, “shows once again that the greatest success of the Jewish state is the integration of Diaspora Jews, from more than 90 different countries, in one thriving society. They wish to live together, form families together, and build a common future.”

“The fact that many Arabs living in the Jewish state define their primary identity as Israeli and feel comfortable and at home in Israel is very encouraging. Having said that, there is still much to be done to ensure full equality,” Bar Yosef said in a statement.

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The index also found that a majority of Jews do think it is wise for secular and religious Jews to live together, but not for secular and haredi Orthodox Jews to do so. It is the self-identified most secular groups that most objected to the idea of living together.

Meanwhile, a significant majority of Muslim Arabs and the vast majority, or more than 90 percent, of Christian Arabs in Israel do not think it is wise for their respective groups to live together, according to the index.

“What is worrying is that what we see here is that in Israel, basically the majority is happy, but they are not ready to live together. So you have a few groups that feel at home here but separately,” Bar-Yosef told JTA.

“Pluralism in Israel is different than pluralism in the Diaspora Jewish communities, because you have a new kind of identity that is based on Judaism, but it’s also influenced by having a Jewish state. As long as you have one system [the Rabbinate], you can keep one society. If you divide the system, it means that you create different communities that can’t build their future together.”

“Those problems do not exist between left and right. They do not exist between Sephardi and Ashkenazi Jews. These groups feel they belong to the same major community, and they want to build a future together. When it comes to the fringe religious groups and fringe secular groups, then we have a completely different approach,” he also said.

Public perceptions about which sectors of Israeli society “contribute” more or less to the success of the country show that soldiers are perceived most positively, significantly more than any other group, according to the survey, which found the same result last year.

Muslim-Arabs and haredi Orthodox Jews, whose children do not serve in the military, are seen as contributing the least.

Some 1,300 Jewish Israelis and Arab Israelis were surveyed by phone or internet panel group for the index by the independent Panels Politics survey company. The JPPI pluralism project is supported by the William Davidson Foundation and led by Senior Fellow Shmuel Rosner.

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