Has a lot of support. Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu
Photo: Avihu Shapira
Rally against rabbi's ruling
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Poll: 55% back rabbis' anti-Arab ruling
Survey shows 41% of secular Israelis support municipal religious leaders' call not to rent apartments to non-Jews, as do 64% and 88% of Israel's traditional and haredi Jews, respectively

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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