Given the decades of conflict between Arabs and Israelis, it is perhaps not surprising, though still regrettable, that young people will grow up with racist attitudes towards those they perceive as ‘the other’. A new survey of attitudes among Israeli Jewish high schools shows a disturbing level of bigotry towards Israeli Arabs and that religion, rather than being a force for good and a driver towards peaceful coexistence as its supporters like to claim, only accentuates those attitudes.
Nearly half of Israel’s high school students do not believe that Israeli-Arabs are entitled to the same rights as Jews in Israel, according to the results of a new survey released yesterday. The same poll revealed that more than half the students would deny Arabs the right to be elected to the Knesset.
In response to the question of whether Arab citizens should be granted rights equal to that of Jews, 49.5 percent answered in the negative. The issue highlighted the deep fault lines separating religious and secular youths, with 82 percent of religious students saying they opposed equal rights for Arabs while just 39 percent of secular students echoed that sentiment.
The secular-religious gap was also present when students were faced with the question of whether Arabs should be eligible to run for office in the Knesset. While 82 percent of those with religious tendencies answered in the negative, 47 percent of secular teens agreed. In total, 56 percent said Arabs should be denied this right altogether.
The survey also delved into the issue of military service and following orders that are deemed politically divisive.
While an overwhelming majority (91 percent) expressed a desire to enlist in the Israel Defense Forces, 48 percent said they would not obey an order to evacuate outposts and settlements in the West Bank.
Here, too, researchers note the religious nexus. Of those who would refuse evacuation orders, 81 percent categorize themselves as religious as opposed to 36 percent who are secular.
Religion poisons young minds.