According to the numbers, Israeli political and cultural institutions are among the most corrupt of the OECD member countries – but Israelis are more willing than their international peers to take the fight against corruption into their own hands.

Transparency International’s Global Corruption Barometer 2013 gathered its data on Israel based on 1,004 online responses to a battery of questions about perceptions of corruption, experiences of bribery, and opinions about political institutions and the effectiveness of civic participation.

Israelis, like most around the world, report that corruption has worsened over the course of the last year. This accords with Israel’s recent and steady slide in global corruption rankings, from 30th in 2007 to 39th in 2012. In a hallmark feature of corruption, over 80 percent of Israelis believe that personal contacts are important or very important for getting things done in the public sector – with only Lebanon, Ukraine and Russia reporting equally high results.

Similarly, Israel ranked second to only Greece among Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development nations on the perception that government is run by a few big interests, described by Transparency International as a sign of “deep-rooted failures of governance.”

Seventy-three percent of Israelis identified their government as captured by special interests, as compared to 62% of Mexicans, 49% of Turks and 5% of Norwegians.

12% of Israelis report having paid bribes in the last year, in the dubious company of such countries as Argentina, the Philippines and Rwanda, and outranking most comparably wealthy countries. The exact same percentage of Palestinians report having resorted to bribery in the last 12 months.

When perceptions of corruption are broken down by institution, a mixed impression of trust in major Israeli social institutions emerges.

The military, education system and judiciary are perceived as Israel’s least corrupt, sporting moderate ratings.

On the other hand, Israelis, like many of the surveyed groups, rate their political parties as civil society’s most corrupt institution – scoring them 4.2 out of a maximally corrupt 5. Scoring approximately as high are Israel’s religious bodies, whose rating of 4.1 ties Sudan for the highest perception of corruption worldwide.

However, Israel also ranks among the highest on measures of willingness to challenge corruption – a category which it most certainly does not share with Lebanon or Russia. An overwhelming 98% of Israelis surveyed express a willingness to get involved in anti-corruption activities, with over 90% endorsing the option of signing an anti-corruption petition.

Moreover, despite pessimism about government responsiveness, over 90% of Israelis say that they would be willing to report an incident of corruption – a figure on par with Germany, Canada and Switzerland.

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