A significant segment of Israel's adult Jewish population agrees with a religious ruling forbididng Jews from selling or renting apartments to Arabs or other non-Jews, according to a recent survey commissioned by Ynet and the Gesher organization.
The controversial ruling was issued by a group of 50 municipal rabbis.
Some 55% of those polled said they agree with the ruling; 26% of the respondents said they agree with it for the most part; 13% agree with the ruling to "some degree," while 42% disagree with the rabbis' call entirely.
The survey indicated that more than half of Israel's secular Jews (about 53%) oppose the ruling, while 41% of them agree with it to some extent (18.4% support the ruling to a large extent; 12.1% agree with it to a certain extent; 13.6% back the rabbis' ruling to a small extent).
Among Israel's traditional population, 64% agree with the ruling and about 30% do not agree with it at all, the poll indicated.
The survey further showed that some 66% of religious or haredi Israelis support the call not to rent or sell apartments to non-Jews, 22% of them agree with the ruling to a lesser extent, while only 10% do not agree with the rabbis' ruling at all.
In addition, some 58% of those polled said they were against dismissing the rabbis over the ruling, while 42% support such a move.
Asked what they would do in case an Arab family planned to purchase or rent an apartment in their neighborhood, some 57% of the respondents said it would not bother them, 24.5% said they would act or consider acting to prevent the Arab family from moving into their neighborhood, while 7% said they would move out.
Analyzing the results according to religious affiliation shows that 69% of Israel's secular Jews would not have a problem living near Arabs; 52% of the traditional respondents and 15% of the haredi respondents also said they wouldn't mind having Arab neighbors. However, some 24% of the secular respondents said they would act or consider acting immediately to prevent Arabs from moving into their neighborhood, as would 31% of the country's traditional Jews and 78% of the haredim.
'Not about halacha'
Only 6% of Israel's secular Jews and about 5% of its religious and ultra-Orthodox citizens would consider moving out of their neighborhood should an Arab family move in.
Gesher General Manager Ilan Gael-Dor said the fact that close to 60% of Israel's Jews agree with the rabbis' call not to sell or rent out flats to non-Jews "expresses the desire of most Israelis to preserve the country's Jewish character, but what about democracy? How does a Jewish and democratic state treat a minority group?
"In my opinion, the rabbis erred when they made the issue into a halachic one. This debate is about the characteristics of the Jewish-democratic state. The agreement with the rabbis does not stem from halachic considerations," he added.
The survey was conducted among 500 respondents constituting a representative sample of the adult Jewish population in Israel. The maximum sampling error was 4.4%.
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