Justice in Israel-Negev Bedouin, Press Releases

Survey: Most Jewish Israelis are in favor of legitimizing the Bedouin unrecognized villages

1 Comment 24 May 2016


Ahead of a report on the Negev Bedouin expected to be published later today by Israel’s Comptroller, Rabbis for Human Rights is releasing the results of a recent survey conducted for us regarding the Jewish public’s stance on this issue. This survey clearly demonstrates that Israeli Jews have an egalitarian approach towards Arab citizens of Israel despite their government’s discriminatory positions against them.


A recent survey by Rabbis for Human Rights revealed that 58% of Jewish Israelis are in favor of recognizing the Bedouin unrecognized villages in the Negev, while 36% also support permitting the villages the opportunity to expand according to standard development increments. Only 3% support continuing the current situation. Although half of Israeli Jews believe the Bedouin wish to “take over the Negev,” after they are exposed to the data a significant majority of them (69%) state they believe Bedouin land claims in the Negev are fair. This data was gathered in a new survey conducted for Rabbis for Human Rights which confirms similiar findings from a survey taken in 2013. Support for the Bedouin was found to be significant even amongst right-wingers.

This recent survey of 800 people from the Jewish population in Israel found surprising results regarding their position concerning unrecognized Bedouin villages: from four policy options towards the villages, the support was much more in favor of recognition of the villages with the future option of expansion based on standard and fair planning and development criteria (36%). Next, 29% of the respondents supported relocating the Bedouin to townships such as Rahat, while 22% supported the option of recognizing the villages, but not allowing for their future expansion. Combined with the first option, support for recognition of the unrecognizing Bedouin villages is 58% of respondents – a significant portion of the Jewish public. Only 3% supported the continuation of the current situation, while 10% answered “don’t know” regarding the future of the villages. In the survey from 2013, the respondents were not questioned regarding their support for recognition of the villages. However, 42.8% of them opposed to Prawer Plan to relocate residents to townships compared to 32.4% who supported implementing the plan.

Additionally, 60% of Israeli Jews surveyed supported the statement: “The Bedouins want to live in peace, if the state treats them well their attitude to the state will improve.” Even on the right, almost half (46% of respondents) support this statement, while 71% of of respondents from the political center supported this statement, with 84% from the left supporting it.

As in the previous survey conducted in 2013, most Israelis believe the Bedouin claim an area in the Negev much larger than they actually do. In the 2016 survey, only 25% of Israeli Jews thought that the Bedouin claim an area making up 25% of the Negev. The rest believed they claim a larger area. (In 2013, 30% of Jews chose this option while the rest thought they claimed an even larger area).

When faced with the Bedouin’s formal land claims in the Negev, Israeli Jews change their position regarding fairness of the Bedouin’s stance.

51% of Israeli Jews think the Bedouin want to “take over of the Negev.” However, after revealing to the respondents that in actuality, the Bedouin only claim 5.4% of the Negev despite making up 30% of its population, most Israelis (69%) respond that this seems fair. (In 2013, 58% of respondents thought that it was fair after being exposed to the facts).

Most of the Israeli public opposes the demolition of the village of Um El Hiran when they hear that the village was relocated to its current location by the military government.

The question was formulated as such:

“In 1956 the government transferred the Bedouin village from its location twice, however, its final location, called Umm al Hiran, was never recognized. Now the state wants to erect in the location of the village a Jewish town to be called Hiran, and demands that the residents of Um El Hiran move to the township of Hura. The mayor of Hura claims there is no room for them, while the residents themselves do not wish to be expelled a third time — especially not to a town riddled with problems and unemployment. Which position does this situation cause you to support more: 1. The position of the government 2. The position of the Bedouins?”

57% of the Israeli Jewish public supported the position of the Bedouins from Um El Hiran in light of this historical description. 43% supported the position of the government. This question is especially relevant considering the current plans to demolish the village and construct on its lands the Jewish town of Hiran.

Rabbis for Human Rights:

The survery demonstrates that within the majority of the Israeli Jewish public in Israel, including among the right-wing, there is a growing understanding that it is encumbent upon us to treat the Bedouin equally and fairly and not uproot them from their villages. There is an alarming gap between the Jewish public’s stance towards Bedouin before being exposed to basic information on the matter and after being exposed to the facts. This demonstrates the lack of familiarity with the topic, as well as apparent incitement by the media and irresponsible politicians against the Bedouin population in the form of creating false impressions that the Bedouin are “taking over the Negev.” We believe in the ethicalness of our people who request to live in equality and not with “eifa ve eifa” (biblical Hebrew for discrimination) alongside “the stranger” in their midst.

Details of the survey:

The Internet survery was conducted from April 14 to 17 2016 on a representative sample of 800 Jewish Israelis on behalf of Rabbis for Human Rights. The data was collected by “The New Wave” (HaGal Hachadash) with writing, oversight and anaylsis of the survery by Dr. Dahlia Scheindlin.

Margin of error: +- 3.5%

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