JERUSALEM (JTA) — A plurality of Israelis would oppose legislation banning the construction of minarets on mosques, a survey found.
Forty-three percent of Israelis would oppose such a ban, 28 percent would support it and 29 percent were undecided, according to a survey conducted for The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding through KEEVOON Research.
Some 57.5 percent of Swiss voters recently approved a referendum banning the construction of minarets on mosques in their country.
In Israel, the strongest opposition to banning minarets came from national religious Israelis, with 72 percent opposing any possible legislation. Among that group, 55 percent defined themselves as "strongly" opposed.
Among fervently Orthodox Jews, or haredim, opposition was 53 percent, compared to 42 percent of secular Israelis and 36 percent of traditional Israelis.
Sixteen percent of the national religious would support banning minarets compared to 21 percent of haredim, 31 percent of traditional Jews and 29 percent of secular Jews.
Asked if the Swiss legislation changed their opinion of Switzerland, some 37 percent of respondends said it did not, while 25 percent said they had a more positive view as a result and 19 percent had a more negative view.
"When it comes to freedom of religion, Israelis are apparently much more tolerant that their Swiss counterparts," said Rabbi Marc Schneier, president of the U.S.-based foundation. "There is a definite correlation between religious observance and tolerance towards Islam. Israelis seem to put politics aside as opposition to banning minarets actually increases as we move further to the right on the political spectrum.
"The fact that less than one-third of all Israelis support banning minarets indicates that from the Israeli point of view, there is room for respectful coexistence between Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs when it is based on religion and not politics."
Five hundred Jewish Israelis were interviewed on Dec. 30-31 and Jan. 3. The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percent.