U.S. State Department: Israel is not a tolerant society
Nov 30, 2010 12:16 pm | Adam Horowitz
The above headline is taken right from Haaretz. Akiva Eldar wrote in 2009 about a report from the State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor which found:
The report says that the 1967 law on the protection of holy places refers to all religious groups in the country, including in Jerusalem, but "the government implements regulations only for Jewish sites. Non-Jewish holy sites do not enjoy legal protection under it because the government does not recognize them as official holy sites."
At the end of 2008, for example, all of the 137 officially recognized holy sites were Jewish. Moreover, Israel issued regulations for the identification, preservation and guarding of Jewish sites only. Many Christian and Muslim sites are said to be neglected, inaccessible or at risk of exploitation by real estate entrepreneurs and local authorities.
The report makes it clear that practices that have become routine in Israel are considered unacceptable in enlightened countries and should be corrected.
You can read the most recent State Department report here; it shows that many of these issues remain the same. To understand how and why this level of inequality continues it is useful to look at the Israel Democracy Institute's new Israeli Democracy Index for 2010 which was released today. It offers some very interesting data that sheds light on current Israeli (especially Jewish Israeli) views on democracy and the Jewish state. Here is a sampling of its findings:
86% of the Jewish public (76% of the total population) thinks that critical decisions for the state should be made by the Jewish majority.
53% of the Jewish public also believe that the State is entitled to encourage the emigration of Arabs.
81% of the population agrees with the assertion that “democracy is not a perfect regime, but it is better than any other form of government.” However, 55% of the public believes that Israel should put observing the law and public order before the ideals of democracy. Of the Jewish respondents, 60% of those on the political right supported this idea compared with 50% of those in the center and 49% of those on the left.
43% of the general population feels that it is equally important for Israel to be a Jewish and democratic country, while 31% regards the Jewish component as being more important, and only 20% defines the democratic element as being more important.
51% of the general public approves of equality of rights between Jews and Arabs. The more Orthodox the group, the greater the opposition to equal rights between Jews and Arabs: only 33.5% of secular Jews oppose this, compared with 51% of traditional Jews, 65% of Orthodox Jews and 72% of ultra-Orthodox Jews.
67% of the Jewish public believe that close relatives of Arabs should not be permitted to enter Israel under of the rubric of family unification.
Almost two-thirds (62%) of Jews believe that as long as Israel is in conflict with the Palestinians, the views of Arab citizens of Israel on foreign policy and security matters should not be taken into consideration.
55% of the general public thinks that more resources should be allocated to Jewish municipalities than to Arab municipalities, while a 42% minority disagrees with this statement.
Within the Jewish public, 71% of right-wing supporters agree that more resources should be allocated to Jewish municipalities than to Arab municipalities, as compared to 46% of centrists and 38% of leftists. When segmented by degree of religious observance, 51% of ultra-Orthodox Jews agree with the statement, while 45% of Orthodox Jews, 28% of traditional Jews, and 18% of secular Jews agree with it.
46% of the Jewish public admitted to being most bothered by Arabs, followed equally by people with cognitive disabilities living in the community. 39% were bothered by foreign workers, 25% would be bothered by same-sex couples, 23% by ultra-Orthodox Jews, 17% by Ethiopian immigrants, 10% by non-Sabbath observers, and 8% by immigrants from the Former Soviet Union.
The Arab public is less tolerant than Jews of neighbors who are “Other.” 70% thought the least desirable neighbors would be same-sex couples and 67% were opposed to having ultra-Orthodox Jews as neighbors, followed closely by 65% who would be opposed to former settlers. 48% answered that the most “tolerable” neighbors would be foreign workers.