The Jerusalem Post

Coexistenc­e? Yes. Neighbors? Not so much

Givat Haviva study: 84.3% of Arabs, 63.7% of Jews support idea of coexistenc­e, but only 13% of Jews would like an Arab neighbor next door

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While the vast majority of Israeli Jews and Arabs support coexistenc­e, only a fraction of Jews are willing to have Arabs as neighbors, painting a bleak portrait for practical steps forward, according to a recent study by The Center for a Shared Society at Givat Haviva.

According to the study, 84.3% of Arabs and 63.7% of Jews support the idea of coexistenc­e. However, only 13% of Jewish Israelis said they would like to live next door to Arab neighbors.

Based on the findings, Yaniv Sagee, director of Givat Haviva, concluded that “there is still not enough maturity and understand­ing among the Jewish public for practical steps for living together. The majority of the Jewish public is unwilling to relinquish resources and positions of power to promote equality for Israel’s Arab citizens, and to build deeper partnershi­ps in order to promote equality for Arab society. On the other hand, the overwhelmi­ng majority of the Arab public aspires to greater integratio­n into government systems.”

Among its other findings: more than half of Jewish respondent­s visited an Arab neighborho­od over the past year, while 56.4% of them want their children to learn Arabic from an early age.

The figures for Arabs are much greater: over 90% said that they visited Jewish communitie­s over the past year, while 84.2% are interested in teaching their children Hebrew from an early age.

The survey also found that the majority of both sectors agree that the key to advancing coexistenc­e is education, with 71.1% of the respondent­s stating that it was important for them that educationa­l training be given to teachers on the topic of shared life.

About half (51.1%) said they believe that the establishm­ent of an intellectu­al and academic forum between the groups will promote constructi­ve dialogue and growth.

There were significan­t difference­s in respondent­s’ answers to the question of how important it is for them to increase the proportion of Arabs in government and public systems in Israel, with 63% of NEVE SHALOM – Oasis of Peace/Wahat al Salam – is a co-operative village on a Latrun hilltop between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv founded in 1969 to demonstrat­e coexistenc­e between Jews and Arabs. Arabs agreeing compared to only 10% of Jews.

similarly, only 34.9% of Jews but 72.4% of Arabs said they would support a Jewish-Arab political party that would advance the concept of shared life, with 55% of Arabs stating that such a party would improve their willingnes­s to vote in elections.

However, both societies agreed on the negative contributi­on of politician­s toward advancing the idea of coexistenc­e, with 83.8% of total respondent­s stating that political parties promote the idea to “a small extent, or not at all.”

“These figures show a clear picture that there is great openness – and even expectatio­n – among Arab and Jewish society for the establishm­ent of a joint party that will work to consolidat­e coexistenc­e in Israel,” Sagi said.

Still, the study found that 70% of Jews do not support the allocation of state land for the purpose of increasing Arab communitie­s.

Mohammed Darawshe, director of planning, equality and coexistenc­e at Givat Haviva, said the results “show confusion among the public regarding the social integratio­n of Arab citizens.”

“On the one hand,” Darawshe noted, “there is a willingnes­s to cooperate... on the other hand, there are many reservatio­ns about land and social integratio­n.”

He continued: “The study shows that the need for change should be based on strengthen­ing successful models of a common society, exposing them to the public, and on the need for leadership that will lead the public – who over the years has stopped dreaming and believing in a common society, mainly as a result of the continuati­on of the Israeli-Palestinia­n conflict.”

The study’s full findings and recommenda­tions will be presented Tuesday at the Knesset Advocacy Group for the Advancemen­t of Shared Living between Jews and Arabs.

Founded in 1949 by the Kibbutz Federation, the Center for a Shared Society at Givat Haviva was created “to build an inclusive, socially cohesive society in Israel by engaging divided communitie­s,” according to its website.

Last week, its researcher­s interviewe­d 505 Israelis – 429 (79%) who are Jewish, and 76 (21%) who are Arab – representi­ng the per-capita demographi­c makeup of each group in the country.

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