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Sabras and Olim on Israel’s Arab Minority

More than half of Israel’s Jewish public supports encouraging Arabs to emigrate from Israel. Breaking down the figures, some 77% of immigrants favor this course of action compared to 47% of Sabras. These figures come from the Israel Democracy Institute’s annual Democracy Index, released today.

They reflect a growing sense of concern among Jewish Israelis about the loyalty of the Arab minority to the state. This has been manifest in the success of Yisrael Beiteinu in February’s general election after pedalling a proposal to make all citizens swear allegiance to the state and the ongoing passage through Knesset of the so-called Nakba Law.

Interestingly, the question of who is harsher towards Arabs — immigrants or Sabras — is not as clear cut as responses to this first question suggest. While immigrants are harsher towards Arabs on this issue, when it comes to the question of Arab rights, it is the other way round. Some 38% of the entire Jewish public think that Jewish citizens should have more rights than non-Jewish citizens. This belief is held by 43% of Sabras and 23% of immigrants.

There’s another figure that challenges attempts to paint, on the basis of this survey, a simple picture of Israeli society. Some 54% of the public says that only citizens who are loyal to the state are entitled to benefit from civil rights. This question seized on the theme of Yisrael Beiteinu’s idea of a citizenship law, which has riled many, especially Arabs. But interestingly, almost one in three Arabs polled said that civil rights should be dependent on loyally — possibly a case of them actually using the survey to demonstrate the very loyalty that is being questioned.

Moving from politics to lifestyle decisions, immigrants from the former Soviet Union appear lukewarm to Israel. Among parents aged 31–40, four out of five Sabras is certain they want to raise their children in Israel, while only 28% of immigrants from the former Soviet Union feel the same. And while 80% of Israeli-born citizens are certain they want to live in Israel, among immigrants from the former Soviet Union the figure drops to 48%.


Israel’s lawmakers went on recess today, and thank goodness they did. Like a bunch of naughty school kids they were starting to get very mischievous as the semester came to an end. A few hours ago, they got a well-deserved telling off from speaker Reuven Rivlin. “If this is the way you behave, no wonder the public thinks this is a circus,” he said. This seems a little harsh… on circuses, which feature genuinely talented people doing impressive things. In comparison, on Thursday the lawmakers were reading children’s books, checking their text messages, and doing crossword puzzles. Read why here.

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