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Survey: Half of Israeli Jews oppose having Arab neighbors

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Israel - Almost half of Israeli Jews – 46% – wouldn't want to have Arabs as neighbors, a survey conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute indicated Tuesday.

Meanwhile, 39% of the participants said they would not want to live near migrant workers and mental patients in rehabilitation, while 23% said that the ultra-Orthodox would make the most difficult neighbors. A quarter of the participants consider gay neighbors the least desirable.

The survey also suggests that 86% of Israeli Jews believe that critical decisions regarding the future of Israel must be decided by a Jewish majority.

Supreme Court President Dorit Beinish said during the Israel Democracy Institute's annual conference in Jerusalem that these findings demonstrate the depth of the gap within the Israeli population.

"We are a very split and polarized society," she said. "We don't have a unified apprehension of what is a Jewish democratic state, or a foundation to what we aspire to achieve. We need to bridge between the different parts."

According to Beinish, the relationship between Israel's sectors is characterized by "demonization, hatred and suspicion. One is afraid of the other, and that doesn't work."

Justice Minister Yaakov Ne'eman blamed the media for fueling the situation. "What is happening in the State of Israel is radicalization, and the media greatly facilitates it," he said. "The media doesn't report the good things, only the bad. We need to speak to each other as equals."

The survey also showed that 81% of Israelis are happy to be Israeli, a finding that surprised President Shimon Peres. "The Jews usually are not satisfied, and this is why this piece of data is impressive," he said.

Peres suggested raising the vote threshold required to win a Knesset seat in order to reduce the rift between political parties. "If the state of affairs remains as it is today, it will harm the democracy," he said. "The ideologies that existed once have dissolved, and today almost all of the parties support a two-state solution."

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin disagreed with the president. "It's not certain that a lower vote threshold will lead us to a lesser number of political parties," he said during the discussion. "Discussion and agreement are not things that can be forced.

"We are dealing with our definition as a Jewish democratic state, which is very complex," he added. "The solution cannot come by means of legislation, especially not the one that we currently have in the Knesset, which aims to radicalize the conflict between 'democratic' and 'Jewish.'"

Ynet
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