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The Peace Index:
May
 
2012
Survey dates: 30/05/2012 - 31/05/2012

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Summary of the Findings

To what extent are citizens of Israel currently afraid of being hurt in street violence? A clear majority—60% of the Jewish respondents and 62% of the Arab respondents—are currently afraid of being harmed by street violence.

And how well are the police coping with the street violence? A large majority rate the performance of the police as “inadequate” or “barely adequate” in this area: 61% of the Jews and 58% of the Arabs.

Should an open-door policy be adopted toward refugees who were persecuted in their countries of origin? Eighty percent of the Jews and 70% of the Arabs oppose adopting such a policy toward refugees.

And what about an “open door” for job seekers who are not refugees? Here too the opponents have a majority, though smaller: 71% of the Jews and 61% of the Arabs.

Are there refugees and migrant workers where you live? In light of the troubling findings above, we checked whether the respondents are experiencing a high level of daily friction with foreigners. The findings are surprising: 79.5% of the Jewish respondents, and about the same rate of Arab respondents, said that where they live there are only a few, very few, or no refugees/ migrant workers at all!

To what extent is the government to blame? Among the Jews, 59% think the government is fully to blame and another 34.5% think that it is partially to blame. Among the Arabs, only 27% assign full blame to the government and 43% lay partial blame on it.

A “cancer” in the body of the nation? More than half (52%) of the Jews agree with the statement of Member of Knesset Miri Regev that the unauthorized Africans living in Israel are a cancer in the body of Israel. Only 19% of the Arab respondents agreed with the statement.

Are all the foreign workers undesirable? Here we found huge gaps in the positions of the Jewish respondents: there is a majority that is moderately not disturbed or not disturbed at all, by the presence of workers from South America (51%), Eastern Europe (59%), Thailand (53%), and the Philippines (61%). However, a majority is disturbed by the presence of foreigners from African countries such as Ghana or Nigeria (62%), Sudan or Eritrea (73%), and by Palestinian workers (73%). No gaps turned up among the Arab respondents: regarding each of the aforementioned groups, there was a majority of 70%–90% who were moderately not disturbed or not disturbed at all, by the presence of the workers.

What is the support level for the demonstrations by south Tel Aviv residents against the presence of the Africans? An overwhelming majority of the Jews— 83%—expressed support for the demonstrations. Among the Arabs, the support stood at only 25%.

And what about identification with the violence that south Tel Aviv residents perpetrated against the Africans? Some 33.5% of Jewish respondents said they could identify with the use of violence (62% could not). As for the Arabs, 23% could identify with it (65.5% could not).

How justified is Police Chief Danino’s proposal to give the Africans work permits? Fifty-five percent of the Jewish respondents think his proposal is not justified; 70% of the Arabs think the same.

Are Unauthorized Africans a "Cancer" in the State of Israel?

Are Unauthorized Africans a "Cancer" in the State of Israel?

The Findings in Detail

This month’s survey focused on two issues: the public’s attitude toward the foreigners now living in Israel, in the wake of the recent demonstrations and other dramatic events surrounding their presence in the country, and the presidential elections in Egypt.
First, the foreigners in Israel: Whether because of the recent events or the public’s sense of a general increase of violence in the streets, the Israeli public reports a very low feeling of personal security. A clear majority—60% of the Jewish respondents and 62% of the Arab respondents—currently fear being harmed by street violence. We segmented the Jewish sample according to several categories and found that, not surprisingly, the fear of being hurt by violence is stronger among women than men (69% vs. 50%) and among older people than younger people (73% of those 55 and older vs. 60% of those aged 18–30).

We gauged the extent to which the fear of violence is linked to living near foreigners. Here the first finding is that a majority of the respondents do not live in an environment where there are significant numbers of foreigners at all. We asked: "Are there refugees and migrant workers where you live?" Some 79.5% of the Jewish respondents, and about the same rate of Arab respondents, said that where they live there are only a few, very few, or no refugees/ migrant workers at all! Therefore, for the Jewish sample, we carried out a cross-section between those living or not living near foreigners, on the one hand, and the fear of street violence, on the other. The findings reveal a connection, albeit not a strong one: among respondents living in areas with many foreigners, 64% reported a high fear of violence, but so did 60% of those living in areas without foreigners nearby. This raises doubt about the often-heard claim that it is direct exposure or vulnerability that accounts for negative positions and feelings toward the presence of foreigners, with all the implications of such positions and feelings.

The high fear of street violence is accompanied by a low evaluation of the police’s effectiveness in preventing it. A clear-cut majority rates the performance of the police in this area as “inadequate” or “barely adequate”: 61% of the Jews and 58% of the Arabs. In the Jewish sample we found no significant difference between men and women in this context. Some difference was found based on age, with younger people seeing the effectiveness of the police in dealing with street violence as worse than it is seen by older people. A segmentation by self-definition of degree of religiosity reveals that more Haredim and religious respondents assess the work of the police negatively (62% and 59% respectively) than do traditional and secular people (44% and 53% respectively).

Along with the widespread low rating of the ability of the police to prevent crime, the public perceives the government as culpable for creating the problem of foreigners. Fifty-nine percent of the Jews say the government is fully to blame and another 34.5% say that it is partially to blame (a total of 93.5%). As for the Arabs, only 27% assign full blame to the government, while 43% lay partial blame on it (a total of 70%). A segmentation of the responses of the Jewish sample regarding the extent of the government’s responsibility by the respondent's voting in the Knesset elections shows that, anomalously, voters for Meretz and Shas are close to each other in the high level of blame they attribute to the government compared to voters for the rest of the parties.

What policy does the public want to see on the issue of the foreigners? Eighty percent of the Jews and 70% of the Arabs oppose adopting an open-door policy toward refugees. And what about an open-door policy for job seekers who are not refugees? Here too the opponents have a majority, though smaller: 71% of the Jews and 61% of the Arabs. According to the data we have, it is hard to determine clearly why the opposition to opening the door to refugees is higher than for opening it to job seekers. Possibly the latter are perceived as people who at some point will return to their countries, or are seen as a smaller threat because they are looking for work, and perhaps they are regarded by the Israeli public as more “decent” people. But, as stated above, our data do not enable us to assign cause and effect.

A segmentation of the Jewish sample by Knesset voting shows that only among Meretz voters does a majority (70%) favor an open-door policy for refugees. A segmentation by the respondents' self-definition of degree of religiosity reveals an overwhelming majority in all the groups that opposes an open door for refugees. There is, though, a significant disparity between groups: whereas only 2% of Haredim favor an open door policy, about one-fourth of the secular do. The religious and the traditional are located in the middle on this issue. As for job seekers, even among Meretz voters, a majority opposes an open door. The pattern of disparities by religiosity is similar to that found for refugees. A segmentation of the attitudes toward an open-door policy for refugees and for job seekers by degree of personal fear of street violence turned up no significant difference between those who are afraid and those who are not. Not surprisingly, though, we found certain gaps regarding this question between respondents living in areas where there are numerous foreigners, and respondents living where there are almost no foreigners or none at all. Although in both groups the opponents of an open door clearly exceed those favoring such a policy, those living in areas of the first kind are more dead-set against an open policy than those living in areas where few foreigners or none at all reside.

We looked into how much the public identifies or does not identify with the statement by Member of Knesset Miri Regev that the Africans living illegally in Israel are a cancer in the body of the country. It turned out that more than half (52%) of the Jews endorse this statement, while only 19% of the Arab respondents agreed with it. A segmentation of the responses of the Jewish respondents by Knesset voting reveals huge disparities: 86% of Shas voters agreed with the characterization of the unauthorized Africans in the country as a cancer, as did 73% of Yisrael Beiteinu and 71% of National Union voters. Just behind these were 69% of Jewish Home voters and 66% of Likud voters. Only 35% of Labor, 32% of Kadima, and 4% of Meretz voters, however, identified with the statement. Self-definition of level of religiosity also yields huge disparities: 81.5% of the Haredim, 66% of the religious, 58% of the traditional, and 38% of the secular agreed with the assertion.

Are all of the foreign workers indeed “undesirables”? Here we found vast disparities in the positions of the Jewish respondents. A majority is moderately not disturbed or not disturbed at all by the presence of workers from South America (51%), Eastern Europe (59%), Thailand (53%), and the Philippines (61%). However, a majority is disturbed by the presence of foreigners from African countries such as Ghana or Nigeria (62%), Sudan or Eritrea (73%), and by Palestinian workers (73%). No gaps were found among the Arab respondents: regarding each of these groups, a majority of 70%–90% were moderately not disturbed or not disturbed at all by the presence of these groups. The table below sums up the rates (in percentages) of the respondents in the Jewish sample who are disturbed by the presence of foreigners from different groups, according to self-definition of degree of religiosity:

Haredi Religious Traditional Secular
Latin America 61 63 50 34
Eastern Europe 48 52 42 30
Africa (Ghana, Nigeria) 83 75 65 53.5
Africa (Sudan, Eritrea) 87 83 78 63
Southeast Asia 56 65 42 36
Philippines 49 57 41 27
Palestinians 93 81.5 77 63

How much support is there for the demonstrations against the presence of Africans by residents of south Tel Aviv? Here we practically found a “national consensus”: an overwhelming majority of 83% of the Jews expressed support for the demonstrations; among the Arabs, the number came to only 25%. A segmentation of the Jewish sample by Knesset voting shows that at the two extremes are Shas voters on the one side (100% support) and, on the other side, Meretz voters, a majority of whom (54%) also support the demonstrations. Older people are clearly more supportive than younger ones. Gender and religiosity did not play a clear and significant role here.

We then moved on to a much more sensitive question: What about identification with the violence that south Tel Aviv residents have perpetrated against the Africans? Very surprisingly, considering that most people do not tend to openly report sympathy for acts that are broadly condemned by society, 33.5% of the Jews said they could identify with the use of violence (62% could not). Among the Arabs, 23% could identify with the use of violence (65.5% could not). A segmentation by Knesset voting for the Jewish sample indicated that the only party for which a majority of voters identified with the violent acts was Shas. A segmentation by religiosity revealed that only a minority in all groups identified with the violence. But while this minority was 26% among secular voters, it was 38% among traditional respondents, 41.5% among religious respondents, and 43% among Haredim.

Finally on this issue, we looked into reactions to Police Chief Danino’s proposal to grant work permits to the Africans. It turns out that 55% of the Jews do not see this proposal as justified, nor do 70% of the Arabs interviewed. A segmentation of the Jewish sample by Knesset voting reveals a majority who justify Danino’s position among Meretz (87.5%), Kadima (64%), and Labor (55%) voters. For all the rest of the parties, the majority of voters do not justify it. A segmentation by level of religiosity revealed that only among the secular does a majority concur with the idea of enabling unauthorized Africans in the country to work (55%). Among the other groups, about one-third or fewer go along with it.

And, turning sharply to the issue of the Egyptian presidential elections, the prevailing opinion in the Jewish public (52%) is that even though the elections were orderly and free of violence, they are not necessarily an encouraging sign for the future of democracy under the new regime in Egypt. A majority of Jews (54.5%) also believe that from Israel’s standpoint, it is preferable for Ahmed Shafiq, who is identified with the Mubarak regime and served in the past as prime minister under the deposed president, to win the final round. In the Arab public, an even larger majority than among the Jews (62%) does not see the orderly presidential elections in Egypt as an encouraging sign. However, the prevailing view in this public (50%) is that from Israel’s standpoint it is preferable that the Islamist candidate, Mohammed Morsi, win the final round. (Only 29% view it as preferable from Israel’s standpoint that Shafiq be elected.)

The Negotiations Index for May, 2012
The Peace Index project includes ongoing monitoring of the Israeli public's attitudes towards peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The monthly
Negotiation Index is comprised of two questions, one focusing on public support for peace negotiations and the other on the degree to which the public believes that such talks will actually lead to peace. The aggregated replies to these two questions are calculated, combined, and standardized on a scale of 0–100, in which 0 represents total lack of support for negotiations and lack of belief in their potential to bear fruit, and 100 represents total support for the process and belief in its potential. Each month, the Negotiations Index presents two distinct findings, one for the general Israeli population and the other for Jewish Israelis.

Negotiations Index: General sample: 46.3; Jewish sample: 46.1


The Peace Index is a project of the Evens Program in Mediation and Conflict Resolution at Tel Aviv University and the Israel Democracy Institute. This month's survey was conducted by telephone on 30-31 May by the Dahaf Institute. The survey included 600 respondents, who constitute a representative sample of the adult Jewish population of Israel. The measurement error for a sample of this size is 4.5%; statistical processing was done by Ms. Yasmin Alkalay.



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