President Reuven Rivlin called the findings of the landmark Pew survey a “wake-up call for Israeli society.”
The poll released on Tuesday by the Washington-based Pew Research Center, a non-partisan think tank, also found that many Israelis - Jews and Arabs - appeared to have lost hope for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Forty-eight percent of Israeli Jews said they agreed with the statement that Arabs should be expelled or transferred from Israel, where they make up 19 percent of the population of 8.4 million.
The survey addressed the role of religion in a modern-day democracy founded as a Jewish state, exposing wide gaps between Orthodox and non-religious Jewish respondents.
According to the poll, 89 percent of Israel’s secular Jews want democratic principles to outweigh Jewish ritual law when the two clash. An identical percentage of ultra-Orthodox Jews take the opposite view.
In addition, about 8 in 10 Arabs complained of heavy discrimination in Israeli society against Muslims, the largest religious minority, while 79 percent of Jews questioned said Jewish citizens deserved preferential treatment.
“It pains me to see the gap that exists in the public’s consciousness - religious and secular - between the notion of Israel as a Jewish state and as a democratic state,” Rivlin said in a statement after receiving the report. “A further problem is the attitude towards Israel’s Arab citizens.”—Reuters