Jewish nationalism – and not democracy – emerged as the most important objective
for Israel’s youth in 2010, according to research featured in a new book by the
Friedrich Ebert Foundation, published last week.
Entitled All of the
Above – Israeli Youth: Identity Paradoxes
, the book, written in cooperation with
the Macro Center for Political Economics, includes in-depth Dahaf Institute
research carried out last summer on the attitudes and beliefs of some 1,600
young people – “both Arabs and Jews” – living here.
Among the questions
addressed to the 800 teens (aged 15 to 18), and 800 youths (21 to 24), was a
series relating directly to the rule of law and governance in this
Asked to rate what was important and unimportant in terms of
running the country, democracy came in only third place, with 14.3 percent
seeing it as essential to the state; while 26% of Jewish respondents said that
Jewish nationality was the most important factor.
The majority of Jewish
youths questioned by the poll also emphasized the need for a strong leadership,
over the rule of law.
In addition to examining attitudes and values
regarding Zionism, democracy and national institutions, the study also probed
opinions and values regarding the treatment of minorities in Israel, the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Holocaust.
“The results show the
near future of Israeli society,” said the publishers in a statement.
opinions and values of the youth can be used as a seismometer for detecting
social change and future developments.”
Examining attitudes of young
Jewish Israelis toward Arab-Israelis, and vice versa, the study found that close
to half of Israel’s Jewish youth were supportive of the notion of revoking the
basic political rights (such as election to the Knesset) of the country’s Arab
Asked whether they believed the statement “Most Arabs do not
accept Israel’s right to exist and would destroy us if they could,” close to
half said that it was “highly likely.”
Within the Arab-Israeli community,
attitudes were equally disparaging, with the majority of Arab teens and youths
saying they did not feel in any way part of Israeli society. Indeed, only 18% of
the 15-18 age group, and 19% among the 21-24 yearolds, felt otherwise.
the question of whether Jews and Arabs could live side by side in the same
neighborhoods, both communities said it was not desirable, and not important.
Only a handful of respondents showed a willingness to do so.
positive note, most of the youths surveyed said they supported peace
negotiations with the Palestinians – but rejected compromises, preferring the
“These positions of theyouth in Israel are not optimistic regarding the prospects of peace between
Israel and its Arab neighbors, or regarding the future of Israel as a democratic
and pluralistic society,” co-publisher of the book Dr. Ralf Hexel said in
“It is evident that the values and opinions described
present a real challenge to those social and political forces committed to the
values and goals of Israel’s founding fathers.”
His publishing partner,
Dr. Roby Nathanson, added: “The results of the study are unpleasant, but
we, and the youth surveyed, do not live in a black-and-white world, but in a
world characterized by constant change. The most important thing is that Israel
must increase significantly the investment in democratic education.
unequivocal result of the study shows that the youth in Israel are not conscious
enough of democracy as a value, and of democratic values.
not merely voting every four years, but includes values such as tolerance and
consideration of the rights of minorities, of the weak and of the
The book, which will be published in English in May, also
contains a comparison to previous studies on Israeli youth conducted in 2004 and
1998, as well as a series of essays and opinion pieces by some of the country’s
top commentators, political figures and other celebrities.