An overwhelming majority of the Israeli public -- some 95 percent -- believes Israeli society is plagued by racism, a new poll has found.
The poll, released Sunday ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which is observed on March 21, was held as part of the "Racism -- Not in Our Schools" campaign lead by an association of voluntary-sector organizations, with the aim of raising awareness of the issue of racism in Israeli society and the education system's role in fighting the phenomenon.
The organizations participating in the campaign include the Coalition Against Racism, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, the New Israel Fund Initiative for Social Change, the Tag Meir Forum, the Morashtenu (Our Heritage) Charter for Democracy, the Tebeka advocacy group for equality for Ethiopian Israelis, the Mizrahi Democratic Rainbow Coalition, and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation.
The survey found that 79% of the public believes that the Ethiopian community suffers from racial discrimination the most, followed by Israeli Arabs (68%) and the ultra-Orthodox sector (41.8%). Some 34% named Russian immigrants and Sephardi Jews as those who suffer from the most from racial discrimination.
Only 4.4% of those polled said they did not believe Israeli society was racist.
Asked what they thought was the most effective way to eradicate racism, 50% of those polled said education was key.
Some 58.4% said that the Education Ministry should lead the fight against racism in Israel, 21.5% said the Prime Minister's Office should lead such efforts, 8.5% said the task should fall to the Social Affairs and Social Services Ministry and 6.4% said the Public Security Ministry should lead the efforts to eradicate racism.
Only 10.3% of those polled said they believed the government was doing everything within its power to fight racism. Some 70.2% said that the government's efforts on the matter fall short and 19.5% said they believe government policies actually encourage racial discrimination.
The Coalition Against Racism will hold a special conference in the Knesset on Tuesday, focusing of education against racism. The conference will be held in collaboration with the Knesset's Lobby for the War Against Racism and Discrimination, which is headed by MKs Afu Agbaria (Hadash) and Shimon Solomon (Yesh Atid).