The growing tide of xenophobia in Israel against African immigrants is featuring increasingly harsh rhetoric from politicians.However, that rhetoric appears to enjoy a surprising amount of popular support — one new poll from the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) found that 52% of Israeli Jews agree that illegal African migrants are “a cancer”.
The poll question was in relation to the controversial words spoken by one Israeli legislator during last month’s violence in Tel Aviv. That legislator, Miri Regev, went on to apologise for her choice of words — though perhaps she needn’t have.
The poll also noted that of Arab Israeli citizens, only 29% agreed with the statement.
More unusual still is that 33.5% of Jewish respondents said they could identify with the anti-African violence — which saw African immigrants attacked and their stores looted. The IDI notes that was “very surprising, considering that most people do not tend to openly report sympathy for acts that are broadly condemned by society.”
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