Giving the silent treatment? 35 percent of Israeli teens have never interacted with Arab peers
The survey showed that 41% of Jewish youth think that Israel should be more Jewish than democratic versus only some 25% who think that Israel should be more democratic than Jewish. (AFP/File)
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A survey released Tuesday showed 35 percent of Jewish Israeli youth had never spoken with an Arab youth. The survey also showed that 27% of Arab Israelis reported never having spoken with a Jewish youth and 18% of Jewish Israeli youth reported never having spoken with an ultra-Orthodox youth.
For the survey, 400 Jewish and Arab Israelis from the ages of 12 to 18 from all sectors – traditional, religious, secular, and ultra-Orthodox, took part, showing trends of intolerance towards each other.
More findings from the survey showed that 41% of Jewish youth think that Israel should be more Jewish than democratic versus only some 25% who think that Israel should be more democratic than Jewish.
Interestingly, the majority of Arab youth in the survey reported feeling part of Israeli society in some way, with approximately 40% of them stating they feel part of Israeli society "to a large or very large extent". Over a third of ultra-Orthodox youth said they feel part of Israeli society only "to a certain extent" or less.
Approximately 52% of Jewish youth in the survey defined themselves as right-wing, 30% as center, and only 9% as left-wing.
Some 11% of the Jewish youth stated that they had been physically or verbally injured or excommunicated for speaking out on politics in the classroom. The majority of those who claimed to be affected identified as left wing.
Half of the respondents stated that they don't think teachers should express their personal political opinions in class.
Referring to the acts of vandalism known as "price tag attacks", which generally target Arabs, often with messages of hate, only 28% of Jewish youth outright condemn price tag attacks. Surprising to some, more traditional youth condemned the acts than secular youth. Approximately 22% stated they had never heard of price tag.
Nearly half of religious youth, and a quarter of the total Jewish youth questioned, stated they "understand but do not justify" the attacks.
Some 45% of the Jewish youth are not willing to learn in a mixed class with Arabs, while only approximately 39% of Arab youth are not willing to learn in a mixed class with Jews.
Prof. Kobi Metzer, President of the Open University of Israel, said of the findings, "At a time when we are witnessing an increase in instances of intolerance, racism, discrimination, and violence, education must play a key role in shaping Israeli society as a democratic, open and enlightened, society, in which the equal treatment of different sectors in society does not fade away in the face of sectorial labeling."
The survey, conducted by the Rafi Smith polling institute, was done in preparation for the Dov Lautman Conference on Educational Policy, a two-day conference held in partnership by The Lautman Foundation and the Israel Democracy Institute and hosted by the Open University of Israel. It opened Tuesday morning with discussions on the decline of democratic values in Israel, the lack of tolerance for the other and for different political opinions, and more.
By Hayah Goldlist-Eichler