A man holds an inflatable hammer in front of a shop that sells items for Israel's upcoming Independence Day, held on May 12, in the southern city of Ashkelon May 8, 2016.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
As Israel turns 69 on Monday, a nation prone to endless kvetching is more content with its lot then one would gather from the media or conversations around Shabbat evening tables, according to a poll released Sunday by the Israel Democracy Institute.
According to the poll, fully 71% of the population said that their personal situation is “good” or “very good,” with only 3% defining it as “bad” or “very bad.” Another 25% said their situation is “okay.”
That was on the individual level.
On the collective level, some 47.5% of the population said that Israel’s situation today is either “very good” or “good,” with only 15% saying “bad” or “very bad,” and another 40% saying “okay.” The rest either did not know or did not reply.
What is interesting, and perhaps even counterintuitive, is that the percentage of Arabs who said that the country is in good or very good shape was significantly higher than the Jewish respondents who said so. Among Arabs, fully 66% said that Israel’s situation is either “good” or “very good,” and some 12% gave the country a “bad” or “very bad” grade.
Among the Jewish population, which according to recently released Central Bureau of Statistics figures make up 74.7% of the population, 44% rated the country as good or better, some 22% less than among the Arab sector. But when it comes to their own individual situation, 57% of Arabs say they are doing well, while 74% of the Jews have a rosy outlook on their own situation.
Despite endless chatter about a country that is losing its “soul” and/or its moral and democratic compass, fully 80% of the general public is proud to be Israeli, a number that rises to 86% when asked of the Jewish population.
Only 13% of the Jews say they are not proud, while that number increases to 40% among Arabs. Even among Arabs, however, more than half (51%) responded that they are proud to be Israeli.
As a comparative figure, a Gallup poll in March found that 75% of Americans said they are either “extremely” or “very” proud to be American.
The institute’s poll shows that Israelis continue to be inveterate optimists, with 71% of the public saying they are either optimistic or very optimistic about the future, and only 24% taking a pessimistic look at the future. Not bad, considering the country has Hezbollah on one border, Islamic State and variations of al-Qaida on another and Hamas on a third; with the threat of a nuclear Iran hovering above; and Palestinian terrorism lurking around the corner.
Regarding Israeli attitudes toward the country’s achievements in a number of different spheres, 81% of the public sees Israel’s ability to maintain the country’s security as “moderately good” or “good,” 70% had good things to say about the health system, 62% gave high marks to the economy and 61% said the country’s achievements in education and science are good or very good.
That’s the good news.
The bad news is that only 24% said the country is doing well in narrowing the social gaps, and 72% of the public responded negatively when asked how successful the country is at responding to what the citizens want.
The poll was conducted by telephone on April 18 and 19 among 600 respondents, constituting a representative national sample of the adult population aged 18 and over. The margin of error is ±4.1%.