Most Israeli citizens are against granting citizenship to the children of migrant workers and hold that at least some of them should be deported, according to a Ynet-Gesher survey conducted following the government decision on the fate of these children.
The survey results also revealed a widespread belief that assisting locals is more important than assisting foreigners, and deporting the latter strengthens the State's Judaism and reduces unemployment.
The survey, carried out by the Panels Research Institute, included 503 respondents – a representative sample of the Jewish adult population in Jewish towns in Israel. The sampling error was ± 4.4%.
The first question, "Are you in favor of granting citizenship to the children of migrant laborers?" received a negative response from 55% of the respondents and a positive response from 34%, while 11% were undecided. The ultra-Orthodox (100%), the religious (85%) and the traditional (56%) populations were against granting citizenship, while the secular population was almost equally divided: 44% against and 43% in favor.
An explanation for the results can be found in the fact that 35% of the respondents believe that "The poor of your city have priority over the poor of others," while only 9% thought the opposite. However, 51% believed that both have equal priority.
The breakdown according to religious affinity shows that most of the religious public prefers to assist its own, yet in all brackets about half the respondents consider both of equal worth.
Moral or dangerous act?
The respondents were also asked to choose, from three possibilities, the definition that most closely suited the granting of citizenship to the children of migrant laborers. Some 60% see this in a negative light, half of them because it endangers the State by making it a state of all its citizens, while half believe it will hurt current citizens. Some 34% chose the answer, "An important humanitarian act, especially for us, as Jews." Some 6% were undecided.
Here too the religious public saw granting citizenship in a negative light. The secular population also tended to be against, but only by a small margin: 48% opposed and 45% were in favor.
Some 67% responded positively to the proposal to deport them, 42% because of the "dictates of reality" in order to maintain the character of the State and 25% because they believed it would reduce unemployment. However, 33% said this would be a "cruel and non-humanitarian step." In all categories, most respondents chose one of the first two options.
Jewish state or state for all?
And the million-dollar question: "Are you in favor of a Jewish state or in favor of making Israel a state of all its citizens?" Some 61% are in favor of maintaining the status quo and 32% in favor of change, while 7% were undecided. The first option was more popular in all categories, but among the secular population the difference was small: 50% were in favor of a Jewish Israel and 41% in favor of a state of all its citizens.
"Israeli society is caught between its obligation to care for every human being and its desire to see Israel as a democratic and Jewish state," says Ilan Gal-Dor from Gesher. "We at Gesher are happy to see the majority of Israel's residents want to maintain its Jewish character together with their desire to solve the problem of the migrant laborers."
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