Published: 05.17.09, 22:48 / Israel News
Only 41% of local Arabs recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish democratic state, while 40.5% of Arab Israelis believe the Holocaust never happened, a new poll conducted by Haifa University revealed.
The poll's disturbing findings will be presented Monday in a conference to be held at the University of Haifa and compared to past figures.
Professor Sami Samocha, who conducted the survey, has been monitoring Arab-Jewish relations for 35 years and says the sensitive ties have seen ups and downs that closely related to current affairs.
"The most moderate year was 1995 – the golden era of the Rabin government, the Oslo Accord, and the attitude to the Palestinian people," he said. "Four years later, the great disappointment with the Netanyahu government and the October events worsened the situation."
In 1995, only 7% of Arab-Israelis said the State had no right to exist. Meanwhile, the figure rose to 22% last year. On another front, last year 56% of Arab-Israelis agreed to limit the right of return to Palestinian areas only. In a similar poll conducted in 2003, 72% of respondents supported the same statement.
'Great rift of October 2000'
Meanwhile, 41% of Arab-Israeli respondents took part in some kind of protest activity last year, while only 28% did so six years ago.
"The figures are a derivative of what we've known in recent years," Professor Samocha said, and pointed to the Gaza blockade, the Second Lebanon War, and the aftermath of the October 2000 Riots as exacerbating factors.
"In the past three or four years we are witnessing the results of the great rift of the October 2000 riots," he said. "Should this continue, the negative positions will grow stronger."
Other disturbing findings in the poll: In 2008, about 54% of Israeli Arabs said they would agree to send their children to a Hebrew school, while five years later [must be "earlier" - a.i] the figure stood at 70.5%. Meanwhile, at this time 47% of local Arabs object to having a Jewish neighbor, while in 2003 the figure stood at 27.2%.
Samocha noted that the current figures are reminiscent of the 1976 data.
"This shows us that the trend is not consistent, and that we have ups and downs," he said. "Everything depends on the State of Israel's domestic ad foreign policies."