Average Israelis, how much do you know about the Jordan Valley?

Map of the Jordan Valley (detail), courtesy of B'Tselem

Apparently, not enough. A public opinion survey commissioned by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) reveals: the majority of Jewish-Israelis believe the Jordan Valley is sovereign Israeli territory, and think that most of the residents of the Jordan Valley are Jewish-Israelis. In actuality, the Jordan Valley is an occupied territory, and most of its residents are Palestinians.
Some key findings:

  • Nearly two-thirds (64%) of the Jewish-Israeli respondents were not aware of the fact that the Jordan Valley is an occupied territory, in which Israel is not sovereign.

  • More than 80% of those asked are either wrong or ignorant about the composition of the Jordan Valley population – thinking that the population of the Jordan Valley is mostly or only Israeli Jewish, when in fact it is made up of 10,000 settlers and 65,000 Palestinians. Only 17% of the Jewish-Israeli respondents had a clear picture of the population composition of the Jordan Valley.

  • Nearly 40% of those surveyed had not visited the Jordan Valley over the past decade, and 28% visited it only once or twice during that period.

An interpretation of the survey concludes that the fact that Israelis wrongly believe that the Jordan Valley is part of the sovereign State of Israel, and is mostly occupied by Israelis, probably enhances the emotional support for the position that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has presented – that the Jordan Valley is essential for Israel’s security.
The public opinion survey was implemented by Dahlia Scheindlin, and the data were collected by the New Wave Studies Institute. The survey was conducted through telephone interviews with 500 adult, Hebrew-speaking Jews, on 31 May and 1 June 2011.
Dahlia Scheindlin, who authored and analyzed the survey for ACRI: “Because Israelis lack basic knowledge about the status of the Jordan Valley, they are more likely to uncritically follow the line presented by Israeli authorities. That’s why it is so easy for decision-makers to shape Israeli public opinion regarding the Jordan Valley, now that it is suddenly on the agenda.”
To download the complete survey data and analysis, click here.
To download a map of the Jordan Valley and the Northern Dead Sea, courtesy of B’Tselem, click here.

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Categories: Freedom of Movement, Impact of Settlements, The Occupied Territories, The Right to Property, Water

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13 Responses to Average Israelis, how much do you know about the Jordan Valley?

  1. Eric כתב:

    Isn’t it irresponsible (incorrect at best) to say that this survey indicates 64% “of the Jewish-Israeli respondents were not aware of the fact that the Jordan Valley is an occupied territory, in which Israel is not sovereign” when that status is disputed by the Israeli government itself? To me, this particular question from the survey just as easily asks whether the respondents agree with the perspective of the international community or their own government, and therefore conclusions drawn about “awareness” are completely invalid.

    • Mojo כתב:

      Eric, it is not the ‘perspective of the international community’ that the Jordan Valley is an occupied territory, it is a matter of fact under International Law that it is an occupied territory, ergo the conclusions made in this study are completely valid.

      There are far too many ignorant journalists, bloggers and commentators pushing or repeating the ridiculously absurd Israeli assertion that the the West Bank and East Jerusalem are “disputed territories”. It matters zilch that the Israeli government disputes the status of the territories, they do not write international law, they do not issue International Court of Justice rulings or opinions.

  2. Eric כתב:

    Mojo, my point is that even if it is a matter of fact under international law that the Jordan Valley is an occupied territory, Israel contests this, and therefore, some of its citizens do too. For this reason, respondents answering that Israel is the sovereign power in that area may also be aware that international law says it isn’t. Hence it is unfair to simply say of these people that they “don’t know” about the status of the Jordan Valley.

  3. kenny כתב:

    The fact that The Jordan Valley is not part of sovereign Israel is not a perspective, it is a reality, Israel’s sovereign territory is unchanged from that of UNGA181, when Israel declared sovereignty in accord with the partition plan, Israel has never legally annexed any territory, The valley along with all land outside of Sovereign Israel remains under law as Palestine.

  4. kenny כתב:

    A Sovereign State controls all it’s territories and must have delineated borders in order to indicate exactly what it controls. It can do whatever it likes within it’s borders. It cannot acquire territory through unilateral annexation. Under Customary International Law since at least the mid 1800′s is by legal annexation (see the US annexation of Texas). Legal annexation requires a referendum of the citizens in the territory to be annexed. A Sovereign State acting outside the extent of it’s Sovereign borders, may only do so in accordance with International Law, the Laws of War, Humanitarian Law, (all mandatory, without exception) and if it is a UN Member, according to the UN Charter and any Conventions it has ratified (Contracting Power) and/or anything it has committed itself to uphold. E.g., Israel obliged itself to the principles of the UN Charter before it became a UN Member state.

    • Eric כתב:

      You’re missing my point entirely. While most governments agree that the West Bank is an occupied area in which Israel is not sovereign, the Israeli government disputes this, and many Israeli Jews dispute this. Therefore, if those Jews say that the JRV is the sovereign territory of Israel, and is not occupied, it does not necessarily imply ignorance, as the article states, but probably implies a difference of opinion. I am not disputing that they are wrong, but that they are unaware of the view of the international community.

  5. Allan כתב:

    I know the Jordan Valley from before 1967 – from Lake Kinneret to just south of Beit Shean, kibbutzim and moshavim plus the town of Beit Shean. I still know that Jordan Valley. This page seems to speak about the part of the Jordan Valley that was taken in 1967, as if Deganya A&B, Afikim, Bet Zera, Ashod, and others do not exist. Who writes this thing anyhow?

  6. Someone כתב:

    Eric – If you read the entire survey you can see that the majority of respondents just didn’t know about the Jordan Valley. They also think the majority of its residents are Jews. It’s not that they dispute international law – they are simply not aware of the fact that it is even a disputed territory. Ironically, if you check out the “demographics” section you can see that in fact Jewish settlers knew more than others that it’s not sovereign Israeli territory (of course, they probably support it becoming one). Which kinda wrecks your thesis.

    Allan – Beit Shean and the Kinneret are not part of the Jordan Valley. Look at a map.

    • Eric כתב:

      Looks like my response to “someone” didn’t get posted. Briefly, someone, I don’t dispute the other findings of the survey, but the assertion that most Israeli Jews are ignorant of the current situation in the JRV (as well as your unsubstantiated claim that they are not aware it is disputed territory). To address your point concerning the demographic information, which I’d already looked at, you’ve got it completely backwards. Almost 70% of West Bank respondents answered that the JRV was sovereign Israeli territory, a much higher proportion than those of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. This information supports, rather than wrecks, the thesis that most Israeli Jews know what’s going on in the JRV but have a different opinion from the international community based on politics.

  7. Eric כתב:

    Uh… Where are my posts?

  8. Eric כתב:

    “Someone”, I don’t have a problem with the other results of the survey (which is why I didn’t mention them); those conclusions are reasonable based on the respondents’ answers, as far as I can tell. None of those answers say that the respondents are “simply not aware of the fact that it is a disputed territory”, as you say. That is an unscientific and pejorative conclusion. As far as the demographic data (which I’d already looked at, btw), I’m afraid you’re completely wrong; look at it again. A far greater proportion of West Bank settlers (69.2%) answered the JRV was sovereign Israeli territory than those of Jerusalem (57.8%) and Tel Aviv (53.5%), and all other areas in fact, excluding Haifa (74.9%). As for the proportion of settlers who answered that the JRV was occupied and not Israeli, it is similar to those of other populations excluding the north and Haifa. Far from wrecking the theory that Israeli Jews are not ignorant of the situation in the JRV, these data actually support it.

  9. Manlin כתב:


    Your prevarication is quite shameful. If a president of Iran, Ahmadinejad, claims that Holocaust did not occur while the rest of the world are suggesting otherwise, even if his followers parrot the same sentiment, it does not make them “right.”

    The Jordan Valley, along with the West Bank, are the disputed and surely an occupied territory, period. Just because the region is under state (Israel’s) control, it doesn’t mean that it has been official annexed or internationally recognized by almost anyone.

  10. Eric כתב:

    Manlin, I don’t know why you would accuse me of prevaricating; I haven’t lied about anything. I’m only asking that people be fair and accurate in their criticisms, which is not shameful in the least. You also have misunderstood what I am saying.

    The problem with this particular ACRI-commissioned survey question is that it is loaded. It’s like asking a group of Palestinians if Haifa belongs to Israel. International law says it does, but if most of those Palestinians answer that Haifa does not belong to Israel, is it fair for civil rights organizations (or anyone) to publish that those Palestinians are ignorant of Haifa’s actual status? I would say no: the respondents could just as easily be responding according to their personal political beliefs, which may diverge from international consensus.

    Imagine this headline appearing on a civil rights group’s website: “Average Palestinians, how much do you know about Haifa?” And the following quote: “Apparently, not enough… Nearly two-thirds (64%) of the Palestinian respondents were not aware of the fact that Haifa is sovereign Israeli territory.” Were I to defend these Palestinians against the charge they were ignorant, would I also be accused of shameful prevarication? I doubt it.