Do Israeli Jews really want to expel Arabs? The (huge) holes in the Pew survey

UK news outlets have been highlighting the results to one question in a comprehensive new Pew Research Center Poll about Israeli society suggesting that ‘Nearly half of Jewish Israelis want to expel Arabs’.

Nathan Jeffay, Senior Columnist and Contributing Editor of the New York Jewish Week and Israel Correspondent for the Australian Jewish News, has written an interesting analysis on the poll for The Jewish Chronicle.  

Jeffay criticizes the methodology and the way the question about ‘Arab transfer’ was worded in Hebrew.

Every opinion pollster hopes that their survey will generate a strong headline, and when Pew released its magnum opus on Israel this week, it certainly got its wish. One in two Israeli Jews want to see Arabs chased out of their country, it seems from the figures.

There is a worrying strain in Israeli society that believes in forcing Arabs to leave, but one in two Jewish citizens — seriously? This is off the chart compared to past surveys on similar topics. What, exactly, were people asked?

At first glance, the question seemed straightforward. People were asked if “Arabs should be expelled or transferred from Israel.” But this actually left a lot for the respondents to define for themselves.

Did they respond in relation to all Arabs, as one would gather from the way results have been presented? Or were they thinking about specific cases, such as Arabs who sympathise 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?

Every respondent will have interpreted the question in their own way, which is bad planning by Pew because it needed just one more letter to make this aspect of the question clearer. The definite article is extremely important in Hebrew, and if Pew was interested in what Israeli Jews think about the presence of Arabs, it should have asked about “the Arabs” not “Arabs” — which would have required one extra letter, a hey.

Read the rest of the article, here.

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