JERUSALEM – A majority of Israeli Jews think Israeli Arabs are a threat to security and believe they should be encouraged to leave the country, according to a new survey.
The author of the wide-ranging survey said Tuesday that the numbers were the result of nearly four years of Israeli-Palestinian violence.
Israeli Arabs (search) constitute about 20 percent of Israel's population of 6.8 million. They enjoy full civil and political rights — unlike their Palestinian counterparts in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip — but suffer from economic and social discrimination.
Professor Gavriel Ben Dor of the University of Haifa (search) said the survey of 1,016 Israelis found that 64 percent of Jewish respondents believe the government should encourage Israeli Arabs to leave the country, and 55 percent think they constitute a threat to Israeli security.
He said the two responses were connected.
"If you believe that someone is a threat to your country, you're inclined to want him leave," he said.
The survey also found that 46 percent of Israeli Jews believe that Israeli Arabs should lose their right to vote and not be allowed to sit in parliament, Ben Dor said.
More than 80 percent of Arab Israeli voters take part in national elections, and Arab Israelis have 10 representatives in the 120-member parliament.
Ben Dor said the results of the survey were nearly identical to those of three previous polls he conducted in 2001, 2002 and 2003.
He attributed the strong anti-Arab sentiments many of the Jewish respondents expressed to almost four years of Israeli-Palestinian violence, in which 964 Israelis and nearly 3,000 Palestinians have died.
"There is no doubt that the outbreak of the violence was a turning point," he said. "Many Israeli Jews now see Arabs as the enemy, someone you should fear, someone who doesn't belong."
Mohammed Barakeh (search), an Israeli Arab member of parliament, said the results of the survey were "depressing and worrying."
"There is no legitimacy for an entire group to feel threatened in the country of its birth," he told Israel Army Radio.
The survey was conducted during the first three weeks of June, Ben Dor said. It has a margin of error of four percentage points.