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Secular, Religious Israeli Students Hold Different Views on Equal Rights and Military Service

Israeli High School Students

Last month we posted an article about Israel’s increasing rejection of democracy as a preferred form of government.  On the question of equal rights for Arab citizens, about half of those surveyed opposed such equality.

A new poll of Israeli high-school students reveals that nearly half of them  also do not  believe that Arabs citizens  are entitled to the same rights as Jews in Israel.   That view was held by 82 percent of religious students, and 39 percent of secular students.

Some 91 percent of secular high school students said they want to enlist in the IDF, versus 77 percent of religious students. Eighty-one percent of the religious students said they would refuse orders to evacuate outposts and settlements in the West Bank, versus 36 percent of secular students.  Nearly a third of the students said they would refuse military service beyond the Green Line!

“This poll shows findings which place a huge warning signal in light of the strengthening trends of extremist views among the youth,” said an Education Ministry official.

The survey, which also revealed that a relatively high number of youth plan on voting and that democracy is still the preferred system of government, indicates “a gap between the consensus on formal democracy and the principles of essential democracy, which forbid the denial of rights to the Arab population,” the official said.

“The differences in positions between secular and religious youth, which are only growing sharper from a demographic standpoint, need to be of concern to all of us because this will be the face of the state in another 20-30 years,” said [Professor] Bar-Tal. “There is a combination of fundamentalism, nationalism, and racism in the worldview of religious youth.”

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Carol Sanders was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. She is a retired legal services attorney and author of legal texts. She lived in Israel from 1963 to 1966, where she worked on a kibbutz, did graduate studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and served as an assistant to the then-mayor of Jerusalem, Teddy Kollek. Carol is a long-time activist with Jewish Voice for Peace, and is the JVP representative to the Middle East Advisory Committee and a member of Bay Area Women in Black.

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