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Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Coexistence in Israel: A National Study

[Dr. Aaron Lerner - IMRA:

For some reason the press release decline to cite this result of the poll of
Jewish citizens:
3. Greater integration of Arab citizens will contribute to the security of
Disagree 65.1% Tend to Disagree 11.4% Tend to Agree 11.6% Agree 11.9%

The interpretation of the significance of the result that 77% of Arab
citizens would rather live in Israel than in any other country in the world
indicates either a profound misunderstanding of Israel or a desire to show
nice results. The Arabs who answered this question interpreted it as asking
if they would rather live in the geographical area within which the State of
Israel is located than live in some other geographic location. A more
appropriate measure would be if they would prefer to live in the State of
Israel or in a Palestinian state from the Mediterranean to the Jordan

Coexistence in Israel: A National Study
New Study Finds Strong Jewish and Arab Consensus
for Peaceful Coexistence in Israel

Cambridge, MA (May 15, 2008) - A new study released today finds strong
support for coexistence efforts amongst a majority of Jewish and Arab
citizens of Israel. The findings may buoy hopes for long-term peace in the

"Coexistence in Israel: A National Study" provides a compelling snapshot of
current relations between Jewish and Arab citizens in Israel as the nation
celebrates its 60th anniversary. Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) associate
professor Todd L. Pittinsky, research director of the school's Center for
Public Leadership (CPL), served as lead researcher on the project. The study
was conducted in Hebrew and Arabic, and included 1,721 adult citizens of
Israel, with assistance from researchers at the University of Haifa.

Click here to download the complete study.

Among the study's most surprising findings:

. A great majority of both Jewish citizens (73%) and Arab citizens (94%)
want Israel to be a society in which Arab and Jewish citizens have mutual
respect and equal opportunities.
. 68% of Jewish citizens support teaching conversational Arabic in Jewish
schools to help bring Arab and Jewish citizens together.
. 77% of Arab citizens would rather live in Israel than in any other
country in the world.
. More than two-thirds of Jewish citizens (69%) believe contributing to
coexistence is a personal responsibility; a majority (58%) of Jewish
citizens also support cabinet level action.
. Arab citizens and Jewish citizens both underestimate their communities'
liking of the "other."
. Urgent action on coexistence in Israel is desired: 66% of Jewish
citizens and 84% of Arab citizens believe the Israeli government investments
should begin now, and not wait until the end of the conflict between Israel
and the Palestinians.

Addressing the significance of the study's most salient findings, Pittinsky
remarked: "These data support what we've found in our allophilia research
around the world-evidence of interest, comfort, and affection among some,
even in communities in conflict. A growing body of research is showing that
it is possible for members of groups who are very different from each other
not only to tolerate each other-but to feel positive toward each other
despite their differences, even in Israel. We call these positive feelings

Pittinsky notes that much media coverage focuses on the divisions between
Jewish and Arab citizens in Israel, and not enough on the sincere and
concerted efforts to coexist peacefully.

"Every day, innovative experiments in coexistence are going on," Pittinsky
said. "People on the ground in Israel are running community centers that
enable cultural exchanges; in bilingual schools-like the Hand in Hand
network of schools-young Jewish and Arab children become culturally
conversant with each other. These deserve as much attention as rockets and
roadblocks. They should be nurtured, studied, funded, and reported in the
media. Ultimately the most successful efforts should be launched on a wider

According to Alan Slifka, a philanthropist who has funded many grassroots
coexistence projects in Israel, and whose foundation funded the study: "This
report supports what we have long suspected-unity among Israel's Jewish and
Arab communities is not only attainable, but there is great public support
for it. The critical next step is for Israeli policy makers to bring about
the structural changes that the Jewish and Arab publics support, to reshape
the educational, income, residential, and other divides that undermine
national unity."

Pittinsky notes that, "A change in Jewish-Arab relations within Israel could
help form the grassroots platform to support shifts from regional conflict
toward regional cooperation between Arab and Jews. Improving the equality
and constructive engagement of Israel's Jewish and Arab citizens may help
create a ripple effect that will spread, changing the course of relations
not only between Jews and Arabs in Israel, but the Middle East more

About the Study

"Coexistence in Israel: A National Study" was conducted in an effort to
directly examine the relations between Israel's Jewish and Arab citizens.
The research team set out to understand the feelings and attitudes of Jewish
and Arab citizens in Israel toward key aspects of coexistence, such as
support, opportunity, language policy, integration, responsibility, and
urgency. The study findings will hopefully provide insight and guidance not
only for policymakers seeking to understand the Israeli public's views on
Arab-Jewish coexistence in Israel, but also for the Israeli public.

The study was co-sponsored by the Alan B. Slifka Foundation and the Center
for Public Leadership at Harvard Kennedy School. Researchers at the
University of Haifa assisted in the data collection. The study was
co-authored by Todd L. Pittinsky, associate professor, Harvard Kennedy
School; Jennifer L. Radcliff, a post-doctoral fellow, CPL; and Laura A.
Maruskin, a research assistant, CPL.


About the Allophilia Project

Launched in 2004 by Harvard Kennedy School associate professor Todd
Pittinsky, the Allophilia Project researches and advises on attitudes beyond
tolerance-ways to promote feelings of interest, kinship comfort engagement
and affection wherever there is diversity: jobs, schools, neighborhoods,
nations, and the world.


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