A recent survey presented by “Haaretz” newspaper claimed that the majority of Jews in Israel advocate the establishment of an apartheid regime, and further claimed that most Israelis believe that currently there are areas in the Jewish state in which apartheid measures are already exercised.
The survey relied on a sample of 503 respondents, and was referenced in articles published by media outlets all over the world, allegedly revealing a series of racist views and extreme nationalist opinions among the Jewish citizens of Israel. However, an in-depth analysis of the survey performed by Israeli media watch dog ‘Presspectiva’ presents a different depiction of Israeli opinion. Presspectiva was able to obtain a full copy of the survey, enabling them to take a close and accurate look at the survey’s findings.
According to their analysis, the conclusions in this survey were misrepresented by the Haaretz article, details were omitted, and Gideon Levy’s coverage of the survey was not objective and contained information that was intentionally distorted.
Presspectiva’s study provides many examples of inconsistencies between the survey’s data and the information presented by Haaretz. The first example is the question in which respondents were asked for their opinion regarding roads that are accessible for Israeli use only. Parenthetically, it should be noted that these roads exist as a result of security necessities. Respondents were asked whether they think the existence of such roads is good or bad. 24% of the respondents viewed the situation as positive, while 50% said it is negative, but there’s no viable alternative to it, and 17% claimed that the phenomenon must be stopped. Despite these details, the reporter chose to publish that 74% of respondents support the existence of such authorized roads for Israelis only – in stark contrast to the respondents’ answers.
Furthermore, respondents were asked several questions about racism and a possible preference of the Jewish sector over the Arab one. In this sequence of questions most respondents gave answers which expressed their desire to integrate the Arab sector into general society, and their support of equal rights to all. For example, 49% of the respondents stated that they would not be bothered by an Arab student in their children’s class. In addition, 60% of respondents (compared to 33%) claimed that Israeli Arabs should be allowed to vote for the Knesset (the Israeli Parliament), in contrast to what Gideon Levy wrote in his article.
Throughout the article, it seems, the text highlights negative data, ignoring the details which depict a different picture.
On the subject of apartheid, which was used as the article’s title, there were also some distortions, according to Presspectiva’s research. In the question regarding apartheid, respondents were asked about a scenario in which Israel would annex Judea and Samaria, a situation which could lead to two and a half million Palestinians voting in Israeli elections. 69% of respondents said they would oppose such a reality. However, Levy decided to conclude from their reply that the respondents support the existence of apartheid in Israel, a very broad interpretation of this data.
It should be noted that in the article itself, the reporter points out that it seems that the respondents did not fully understand the term ‘apartheid’, however, it did not prevent the reporter from remarking on the respondents’ opinions on the subject, despite their lack of understanding. According to Presspectiva, it seems that the answers given by the respondents were based on the understanding of the term ‘apartheid’ as synonymous with ‘discrimination’. Another element that contributed to the confusion was the surveyors’ question about whether there is “some” apartheid in Israel, or is the phenomenon prevalent.
Presspectiva published its reaction to the Haaretz article because of its suspicion over the facts presented in the Haaretz article, allegedly showing extreme racism among the Israeli Jewish population. In-Depth examination of the facts presented by the survey shows that the reality is different. The results do not reflect a racially motivated society in Israel that supports apartheid, as it was presented by Haaretz.
After several sources drew attention to Haaretz’s distortions, the paper published a clarification stating that their headline and article were misleading. Gideon Levy published an apology as well. However, the article’s premise had already been re-published by the British Guardian, the British Independent, the Canadian Globe and Mail and tens of other sites, causing extensive damage to the image of Israel and its citizens.