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Foreigners and Outsiders: Exclusionist Attitudes towards Labour Migrants in Israel



This paper examines theoretical propositions regarding the social mechanisms that produce hostility and discriminatory attitudes towards out-group populations. Specifically, we compare the effect of perceptions of socio-economic and national threats, social contact and prejudice on social distance expressed towards labour migrants. To do so, we examine exclusionary views held by majority and minority groups (Jews and Arabs) towards non-Jewish labour migrants in Israel. Data analysis is based on a survey of the adult Israeli population based on a stratified sample of 1,342 respondents, conducted in Israel in 2007. Altogether, our results show that Israelis (both Jews and Arabs) are resistant to accepting and integrating foreigners into Israeli society. Among Jews, this is because the incorporation of non-Jews challenges the definition of Israel as a Jewish state and poses a threat to the homogeneity of the nation. Among Arabs, this is probably due to threat and competition over resources. The meanings of the findings are discussed within the unique ethno-national context of Israeli society and in light of sociological theories on ethnic exclusionism.