Mideast Analyst Punches Holes in Pew Survey Indicating Half of All Israeli Jews Favor Expulsion, Transfer of Arabs
Following Tuesday’s release of a Pew poll indicating that half of all Israeli Jews favor expelling or transferring Arabs, a Mideast reporter and analyst took issue with its findings and methodology.
Writing in the UK’s Jewish Chronicle on Wednesday, Nathan Jeffay expressed skepticism about the veracity of the data, based on the question posed to respondents to the survey.
“There is a worrying strain in Israeli society that believes in forcing Arabs to leave,” he wrote. “But one in two Jewish citizens — seriously? This is off the chart compared to past surveys on similar topics. What, exactly, were people asked?”
If they were asked whether “Arabs should be expelled or transferred from Israel,” he posited, they were left “defin[ing] for themselves” what this meant.
“Did they respond in relation to all Arabs, as one would gather from the way results have been presented?” he wondered. “Or were they thinking about specific cases, such as Arabs who sympathize with terror or — as-per the policy that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is currently having checked by state lawyers — to move the families of terrorists who carry out attacks out of Israel?”
Jeffay went on to explain that, in Hebrew, the absence of the article before the word “Arabs” makes all the difference. “If Pew was interested in what Israeli Jews think about the presence of Arabs, it should have asked about ‘the Arabs’ not ‘Arabs,’” he wrote, going on to quote renowned Haifa University sociologist Sammy Smooha, who regularly surveys Jewish attitudes towards Israeli Arabs and vice-versa, calling the question “misleading and vague.”
Jeffay then cited leading Israeli pollster Camil Fuchs, who regularly contributes polls to the daily newspaper Haaretz, where his findings often reveal “hard truths” about Israeli society. Fuchs, noted Jeffay, said he believed that respondents hearing the word used in the Pew survey for “transfer” more likely interpreted it as “land swaps,” which Jeffay described as “a mainstream Israeli doctrine, based on the premise that if a peace deal ever happens, Israel will give up parts of Israel to the Palestinians in return for holding on to some settlements. US President Barack Obama has advocated land swaps as a way to make a peace deal realistic.”
Fuchs, added Jeffay, said that “Pew’s sky-high figure resulted from that no-no of polling known as ‘double barreling,’ where a question touches on two issues but allows just one answer — and often creates a single impression about people who respond positively.”
Jeffay then pointed to Fuchs’ own conclusion: “I don’t presume that all or a great many of the people who answered ‘yes’ want to move all the Arabs.”