March 8, 2010 Biden in Israel, Coalition Crisis Over Conversions

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A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman

March 11, 2010 Store Opening Leads News- Troubling Opinion Poll of Israelis 15-18

If you think that Israeli news would be led today by the last day of the Biden's visit, or the fallout from the announcement of new building in East Jerusalem, you would be wrong. Israelís evening news tonight (at least on channel 10) led off with a story of the near riot initiated during the opening of the first H & M store in Israel (for those not "in the know" itís a chic budget woman apparel chain). There were thousands of people in line at the Azrieli Mall in Tel Aviv when it opended, and by the end of the day it is expected that 15,000 shoppers will have visited the store, with most not leaving empty handed. Earlier this week the second and largest Ikea store in Israel opened in Rishon Letzion. Ikea invested $100 million in building and stocking the new store.

This is the last day of Vice President Biden trip to Israel. He took a tour with Defense Minister Barak of the Northern border. A border that continues to be more tense than usual. This afternoon Biden gave a major speech at the Tel Aviv University, in which he said the status quo was not sustainable. He did accept the public apology from Prime Minsiter Netnayahu for the timing of the building announcement. As Biden left Israel for Jordan this evening, it was very unclear whether the Palestinians will enter into the expected indirect talks with Israel or will use the building announcement in East Jerusalem as an excuse for not resuming the talks.

A study of the opinions of 15-18 year olds Israelis was released today, and it has a number of troubling results. First, the good news: 85 % of the respondents answered they preferred a democracy, even if it did not agree with their views than living under a dictatorship. When asked if Arabs should have equal rights as Jews, the young population was evenly divided. Those results are even more troubling when you look at the breakdown of the votes (those who come from either the National Religious or Charedi community believe by an overwhelming 80% that Arabs should not receive full rights.) Considering the projected population growth for those who truly believe in democracy, these statistics highlight a very troubling trend. Other results: Only 51% of youth said they would take part in the removal of settlers if so ordered. Once again the results were vastly different between the youth of the religious compared to the non-religious camps. One other surprising result was that in the Arab sector 75% of the students responding stated that things were good for them and that they were receiving a good education. 80% of them identified themselves as proud Palestinians.

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