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1968 poll shows what Jewish Jerusalemites thought of Palestinians

A survey of Jerusalem’s Jewish residents just months after the end of the Six-Day War showed that, even back then, the majority wanted little to do with their Arab neighbors — and as few reminders as possible that they were there at all.

Two IDF jeeps drive in a parade through Jerusalem, 1968. (A. Eisenberg/Lehava Kiryat Mozkin, CC 2.5)

Two IDF jeeps drive in a parade through Jerusalem, 1968. (A. Eisenberg/Lehava Kiryat Mozkin, CC 2.5)

At the close of the Six-Day War in 1967, Jerusalem’s Jewish residents were surely elated, like most Israeli Jews, by the famous words, “The Temple Mount is in our hands.” But when it came to daily life with their new Arab neighbors, most quickly decided they would have preferred a land without a people.

A survey conducted less than one year after the reunification showed deep suspicion, and large majorities who supported limiting the presence of Arabs in their lives to the fullest extent possible. The full survey (Hebrew) is being published here (English) for the first time in full; it was found by Akevot, a a human rights research and documentation center that publishes fascinating archival material. The poll had been described by Tom Segev in his book 1967: Israel, the War, and the Year that Transformed the Middle East, but the full data were not made available until now.

In 1968, surveys were a lengthy undertaking. Interviews were conducted face-to-face, and the coded responses were processed slowly. Even the relatively small sample of 283 respondents in this survey would have taken several months to conduct and process. The copy here includes a cover letter dated March 11, 1968, following a discussion of the results at a Ministerial Committee on Jerusalem. That means the survey was already completed and analyzed possibly by early March; most likely the interviews were conducted in January and February of 1968, or even December 1967 – just over half a year after the war.

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Based on the findings, the overwhelming conclusion is that Jews wanted little to do with Palestinians of Jerusalem, other than to expand into their neighborhoods.

Nearly sixty percent said that Arabs shouldn’t be allowed to move to the Western part of the city. Eighty-five percent thought the unification would bring increased crime, and 81 percent said it would bring severe social problems. Although a small majority agreed that Arabs should be allowed to work in West Jerusalem, nearly half, 45 percent, said they should not be allowed to do so.

A large minority of Jewish respondents did not welcome the influence of Arab culture or political representation. Forty-four percent thought the unification would make the city more “Levantine,” although in one of the few tolerant findings, a 64 percent majority said Arabs should be allowed to use the municipal Khan Theater. But half did not believe Arabs should vote in municipal elections. And 48 percent said they would feel negative about Arabs being elected to the city council (43 percent responded positively).

At the same time, respondents wished to avail themselves of the eastern part of the city: Eight-nine percent and 82 percent, respectively, said Jews should be allowed to live and work there. But nearly two-thirds (62 percent) said they had no intention of living in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City.

IDF soldiers take part in the first Independence Day parade in Jerusalem following the Six-Day War, May 1968. (Moshe Baier/Yehudit Garinkol Collection, CC 2.5)

IDF soldiers take part in the first Independence Day parade in Jerusalem following the Six-Day War, May 1968. (Moshe Baier/Yehudit Garinkol Collection, CC 2.5)

Segev writes that the findings were deeply damaging to Mayor Teddy Kollek’s vision of a welcoming and conciliatory attitude to the “Arab” population. Prime Minister Levy Eshkol was deeply dismayed after he saw the results, Segev reports. Kollek then had all but two copies of the survey destroyed, preserving one for the Prime Minister and one for the Foreign Minister.

If their idea was to ignore the results and continue social and cultural integration, the mission has failed: Jerusalem’s Jewish and Palestinian areas are today deeply divided. Although in places the neighborhoods practically spill over into one another, many Jews in the western part never venture into the eastern side of the city. When I told someone about visiting Jabal Mukaber to report from there in 2015, she said, “Why didn’t you think you would get killed?” Once, when I asked a Jewish Israeli for directions, he pointed across the “seam line” – the divider between east and west before 1967 – and said: “What you’re looking for definitely isn’t there.”

The political divisions are just as deep. The vast majority of the city’s 350,000 Palestinians do not vote in municipal elections so as not to legitimize Israeli rule; according to a 2014 study, fewer than 1 percent cast a ballot. Indeed, there are no Arabs on the city council. One of the barely-optimistic findings of the survey is that 51 percent percent believed unification would improve the economies of both sides. Yet today, 82 percent of the Palestinian residents live in poverty, compared to 48 percent in Jerusalem as a whole – largely as a result of such separation. The poverty rate in Israel is 22 percent.

The desire to keep Palestinian residents of Jerusalem at a distance remains as strong as ever. In a 2015 survey by the Israeli peace organization “Israel Regional Initiative,” 60 percent of the Jewish respondents said that if all Palestinians in East Jerusalem lose their Israeli citizenship and become citizens of a future Palestine, they would be more likely to support a peace agreement.

On one point tested in the 1968 survey, the fearful Jewish Jerusalemites of that time can rest assured. Three-quarters said that intermarriage among Arabs and Jews was a “possibility” following unification — one they clearly did not view as desirable. While data is hard to pin down, Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics in 2012 registered 16 Arab-Jewish marriages out of a total of 50,474 marriages that year — making the rate of Jewish-Arab couples roughly .03 percent.

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    1. Grandpa Frost

      That couldn’t have anything to do with the actions and the attitudes of the Arabs, could it?

      Reply to Comment
      • Bruce Gould

        @Grandpa: That’s one theory. Let me offer another theory: The UN just came out with a report titled “Occupied Palestinian Territory: Fragmented Lives” – I propose that most Israelis don’t want to see a Palestinian face because they know what they’ve done and prefer not to think about it.


        “Palestinian civilians across the oPt continued to be subjected to threats to
        their lives, physical safety and liberty from conflict-related violence, and
        from policies and practices related to the Israeli occupation, now in its 50th

        Reply to Comment
        • Grandpa Frost

          Bruce says:
          ” I propose that most Israelis don’t want to see a Palestinian face because they know what they’ve done and prefer not to think about it.”
          That’s a nice proposal you have going there. If that were true, does it work in other situations? Are Germans afraid to face the Jews? Are Turks afraid to face the Armenians? Are White Americans afraid to face the natives? If you use your “logic”, then it would be the Arabs who would be afraid to face the Israelis, after all, it is the Arabs who bear the complete responsibility for the situation.

          If I were you, I wouldn’t bring up the UN because they don’t have a shred of credibility.

          Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            “Are Germans afraid to face the Jews?” No. But, see, that’s the thing. Though for a decade or two after the war the Germans busied themselves with their Wirtschaftswunder and did not really want as a society and individually to face up to what was done in their name, they eventually did, increasingly, and German education, German society, German reparations, German literature, German architecture and museums, all of it does face what was done. Squarely and reasonably honestly. Israeli society (in a strange irony) does not. Not yet. And Merkel’s Germany today behaves very, very differently from Netanyahu’s Israel with respect to immigrants and foreigners and those not in the majority.

            Thanks for indirectly admitting that something bad was done by Israelis to Palestinians. The comparisons you make implicitly indicate that admission. But, unsurprisingly, you get things confused.

            “Are Turks afraid to face the Armenians?” They sure are.

            “Are White Americans afraid to face the natives?” Well, the destruction of the native Americans was pretty near complete. Removed to their reservations, small in number, they are out of sight out of mind, but if native Americans were 50% of the American population and interwoven among Americans, as Arabs are among Jews in the entity comprising Israel and the territories it occupies, then yes, White Americans would be afraid of native Americans in the manner Bruce describes. The problem you have, Frost, is that you are trying mightily to remove and disappear the Palestinians to reservations and want then out of sight and out of mind, but they aren’t cooperating. And the sheer demographics are not cooperating. And neither are those damned liberals like +972 Magazine and the rest of the liberal western world. These parties are just not cooperating with this nice little 19th Century colonial enterprise you feel entitled to in 2017.

            Reply to Comment
          • Grandpa Frost

            Ben says:
            “Thanks for indirectly admitting that something bad was done by Israelis to Palestinians. The comparisons you make implicitly indicate that admission.”

            I did no such thing. Your reading comprehension is thoroughly lacking. Here’s what I in fact stated: “If you use your “logic”, then it would be the Arabs who would be afraid to face the Israelis, after all, it is the Arabs who bear the complete responsibility for the situation.”

            It’s utterly pointless to debate demagogues such as yourself. You are utterly incapable of admitting even the most basic facts. Your way of dealing with realities that do not fit your narrative is to launch mindless tirades.

            The Jews of the Holy Land have absolutely nothing to atone for when it comes to the treatment of their bloodthirsty enemies. The Jews were systematically and mercilessly attacked by them for the last 100 years. In 1948, the nascent state of Israel was invaded by five Arab armies which lead to both Jewish and Arab refugee crises.

            Now, without resorting to your usual demagoguery, can you acknowledge this simple reality? Can you acknowledge that Israel was and is the victim of aggression? Can you acknowledge the fact, that the whole world is now dealing with the same savagery and barbarity that the Jews of the Holy Land have been dealing with for 100 years?

            Let’s see if you can come with anything worth responding to.

            As far as your doomsday scenarios for Israel, don’t bother. We’ve been hearing since 1948 and they have all failed to materialize. The BDS movement is an utter failure. Israel’s economy keeps growing and I would bet you that in 20 or 30 years, Israel will become one of the most prosperous countries in the world.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            “…the most basic facts..can you acknowledge…”

            This is the predictable cult-like response I was expecting from you. It’s like arguing with a Scientologist. Not a productive or illuminating activity.

            Reply to Comment
        • Reality Check

          The UN rejected the “report” and the Sec Gen would not allow it out in the name of the UN hence your link is to a fake news source.

          Reply to Comment
    2. Joel

      Why exactly would anybody expect Israelis to welcome Jordanian Arabs from East Jerusalem into their neighborhoods with open arms? This was 20 years after Jews were forced out of the Old City, years of skirmishes, and immediately after a war with their Arab neighbors. These were their conquered enemies, not long lost friends.

      But if your raison d’etre is to find bad things to say about Israelis, I guess it makes sense, in its own twisted way.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Paranam Kid

      How ironic:
      1. israel, established as a reaction against racism against Jews is now the most racist state in the world, the only state proven to be an Apartheid state
      2. israel was NOT created by the UN, nor given the green light, but was created fraudulently in blatant breach of various UN resoltiions, incl. resolution 181 !!!

      israel has the arrogance to keep stealing ever more land, and does so in the knowledge that it can do so with impunity thanks to its lapdog the US. It is truly a sick, corrupt rotten country without any legitimacy whatsoever.

      Reply to Comment
      • i_like_ike52

        (1) Turnabout’s fair play (I am playing devil’s advocate here)! Are Jews supposed to better than everyone else or something?

        Reply to Comment
        • Paranam Kid

          I don’t know who you mean by “Jews”. If you are conflating Jews & israelis, then I am not interested in the discussion because not all Jews are israelis, and israel does NOT represent all the Jews in the world.

          Reply to Comment
          • i_like_ike52

            Almost half of all the Jews in the world live in Israel, and soon Israel will have the most Jews of any country in the world. It should also be noted that most American Jews actually have only a very tenuous connection to world Jewry, so Israel is the THE world center of Jewry in a religious, cultural and political sense.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            @Ike52: How cult-like, how like Scientology this sounds. It is certainly consistent with the political philosophy of Moshe Feiglin. But it side steps the point: not all Jews are israelis, and israel does not represent all the Jews in the world, and, not all Israelis are Jews. Ike52 thinks, as does any Feiglinist, that the fact that not all Israelis are Jews is a minor point. But non-Feiglinist liberal democrats (that is, those accepting the bedrock political standard of the civilized western world) thinks it is the main point.

            Reply to Comment
    4. Daniel Pinner

      I know that on this Website you don’t like historical accuracy or truth, but nevertheless let’s try just for once:

      In 1968, there were no Palestinians in Jerusalem (East or West), neither were there any Palestinians in the West Bank or the Gaza region. Quite simply, Palestinians hadn’t yet been invented.

      The Arabs there were still Arabs, and if they had to identify with any nationality, then the Arabs of the West Bank & Jerusalem were Jordanians, loyal subjects of King Hussein, and the Arabs of Gaza were Egyptians, loyal to President Gamal Abd el-Nasser.

      That’s why UN Resolution 242 (5 months after the Six Day War) has not a single mention of “occupied Palestinian territories”. That’s why Resolution 237 (14 June 67) has never heard of “Palestinians”, neither prisoners-of-war nor refugees. That’s why Resolutions 248 (March 68), 250 (April 68), 252 (May 68), 256 (August 68), 271 (September 69), etc. etc., all of which deal with the areas Israel captured form the Arabs in June 67, and specifically Jerusalem, have never heard of “Palestine”, “Palestinians”, or “occupied Palestinian territories”. That’s why Resolution 265 (April 69) still regards those territories as “Jordanian”.

      I know that it’s not politically correct to mention this today (which is why I assume that you won’t be publishing this comment), but nevertheless it’s one of these hideous historical truths: that 50 years ago, Palestinians didn’t yet exist.

      Reply to Comment
      • Paranam Kid

        70 years ago israelis did not exist, they had not been invented yet. What’s more, israel did not exist & had no authority to exist.

        U.N. General Assembly Resolution 181 neither legally partitioned Palestine nor conferred upon the Zionist leadership any legal authority to unilaterally declare the existence of the Jewish state of Israel. It merely recommended that the UNSCOP partition plan be accepted and implemented by the concerned parties. Nor could the General Assembly have legally partitioned Palestine or otherwise conferred legal authority for the creation of Israel to the Zionist leadership, as it simply had no such authority to confer.

        Israel’s own claim in its founding document that U.N. Resolution 181 constituted legal authority for Israel’s creation, or otherwise constituted “recognition” by the U.N. of the “right” of the Zionist Jews to expropriate for themselves Arab land and deny to the majority Arab population of that land their own right to self-determination, is a patent fraud.

        Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        Pinner, your smug “hideous historical truth” is corrected by Paranam Kid. There is nothing “hideous” whatsoever about your half truth, except your motive. The people who identify as Palestinians were certainly there all along and are there today. All 6 million of them. And another 6 million in their diaspora. You wouldn’t be trying to disappear 6 million people, would you? 6 million is a bad number. Talk about hideous. As Paranam Kid points out, Israelis did not exist, had not been invented, 70 years ago. Is that also a “hideous historical truth”?

        Reply to Comment
      • Mark

        That’s nonsense. Palestinians were invented in 1964!

        Reply to Comment
    5. i_like_ike52

      It isn’t necessary to use poll results to know what Arabs were thinking about Israel and Jews a year earlier, in 1967. Residents of the Musrara neighborhood in what was then west Jerusalem which was right up against the border with Jordanian east Jerusalem, besides suffering for years from random sniping by Jordanian troops up on the walls of the Old City, heard, when the 6-Day War broke out, mosque loudspeakers blasting out thinks like “kill them all, cut their throats!”. Pretty clear there what public opinion was among the Arabs at the time. So is it any wonder that Jews might be a little suspicious of their new Arab neighbors?

      Reply to Comment
      • Paranam Kid

        You guys always come up with these anecdotal stories “proving” how the Palestinians living under israeli rule enduring apartheid and incremental genocide are so much better of.

        The fact is that israel, apart from having been established FRAUDULENTLY, has absolutely NO RIGHT to any of the Stolen Territories, nor has it the right for its war crimes, crimes against humanity, nor ahas it a right to institutionalised racism, APARTHEID, as proven irrefutably & incontrovertibly by the UN. Period.

        Reply to Comment
        • i_like_ike52

          Oh dear, Israel was created “fraudulently”? Is that why it has formal relations with the large majority of nations in the world? Is that why an Israeli has just been elected vice-President of the UN General Assembly?

          Call a cop.

          Reply to Comment
          • Paranam Kid

            israel’s special skill, blackmail, goes a long way to get things done its way. Nevertheless, the country has been a fraud from day 1 till today. There is nothing that can be done about it, but knowing this contributes to a better understanding of the injustice israel has inflicted on the Palestinians, and from a moral point of view should shut up instead of taking the high ground. But then, israel’s moral values are at ground zero, which goes hand-in-hand with the Apartheid system it has institutionalised & enshrined in law.

            Reply to Comment
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