Israelis think their leadership is corrupt – IDI survey

The poll found that 58% see their leadership as corrupt or very corrupt, 24% see them as moderately corrupt and 16% not corrupt at all, while 2% had no opinion.

(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The majority of Israelis think their leadership is corrupt, according to the comprehensive annual Israel Democracy Index that was presented on Tuesday morning to President Reuven Rivlin at the President’s Residence.
The index was conducted for the 17th year by The Guttman Center for Public Opinion and Policy Research at the Israel Democracy Institute on the basis of a large-scale public opinion survey conducted in May 2019. The survey included 1,014 interviewees (852 Jews and others, as well as 162 Arabs), who constitute a representative sample of the adult Israeli population.
The poll found that 58% see their leadership as corrupt or very corrupt, 24% see them as moderately corrupt and 16% not at all, while 2% had no opinion.
The percentage of those who deem their leadership corrupt has been rising steadily since the IDI began measuring it in 2014, when it stood at 43%. The institute found a connection between perceptions regarding corruption and perceptions of the quality of Israel’s democracy, in that 46.5% of those who think Israel’s leadership is corrupt also think that the quality of Israel’s democracy is poor. Among those who think that Israeli leadership is not corrupt, only 18% think that Israel’s democracy is in poor condition.
The IDF remains the most trusted Israeli institution. Some 90% of Jewish Israelis say they trust the army, followed by the office of the president (71%) and the Supreme Court (55%).
Less than half of Jewish Israelis trust the police (44%) or the media (36%). At the bottom of the list are the government and Knesset (30% each) and political parties (14%).
Last month, the Israeli Voice Index of the Guttman Center of the IDI also tested public trust in the Attorney-General’s Office: 46.5% of Jewish Israelis said they trust Avichai Mandelblit, and a similar percentage (42%) trust the State Prosecution.
Half of Israelis think that the judicial system is in a good state. At the same time, 50% of Jewish Israelis and 42% of Arab-Israelis think that the courts do not give equal treatment to everyone appearing before them. Asked if they think that the legal rulings of Supreme Court justices are influenced by their political views, 59% said yes. Among Jewish Israelis, this opinion is held predominantly by the right-wing (78%) and the haredim (ultra-Orthodox – 85%). Only 36.5% of those on the left and 46% of secular Jews agreed.
The results come as the High Court of Justice and the attorney-general decide whether they think Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu must resign due to the prosecution’s indictment against him. One might have expected that the momentous decision by Mandelblit to indict Netanyahu, and the High Court hearings about his fate as premier, might have radically changed people’s views. However, as the IDI report indicated, there is not a huge change when it comes to trust.
In 2018, the level of trust in the Supreme Court was at 55% among respondents; in the 2019 survey published Wednesday, the level was the same. In 2018, the level of trust in the Attorney-General’s Office was 47%; in the 2019 IDI report it had only dropped to 46%, which is not a statistically significant change.
“For a year now, the security, economic, social and diplomatic challenges that lie before us are not receiving the attention they would deserve from a stable government,” Rivlin said upon receiving the report.
He noted that one does not need to refer to the Democracy Index to realize Israel is in a period in which the government has not honored its promises to the public on issues such as building more hospitals, education, public welfare and transportation.
“One does not need to be an expert to understand that we are spiraling out of control,” the president said. “The situation we find ourselves in is problematic, and even dangerous. It is dangerous because the trust that the public holds in the institutions of democracy – in elections, in political parties and in the Knesset – has been eroded.
“Even more troubling [is that] the political stalemate, this debacle, is eroding our nation’s faith in our ability to work and live together,” he said. “When the nation witnesses its leaders spewing hatred at one another, boycotting entire communities and seeking votes via a strategy of divisiveness, what is left for them to believe in?”
IDI president Yohanan Plesner said the findings have a message for Israeli politicians.
“While the past year was characterized by an ongoing onslaught against the professionalism and integrity of civil servants and the institutions of law and order, these assaults had very little effect on the public’s positions,” he said. “As we can see in the index, the public’s trust in the Supreme Court is still four times higher than it is in political parties.  Politicians who hasten to attack law enforcement institutions in the name of ‘the people’ would be well advised to think twice before doing so.”
Similar to previous years, the general public’s assessment (Jews and Arabs) of Israel’s overall situation continued to be positive: 50% believe that the overall situation is good or very good (down 3% from last year). However, only slightly more than a third (34%) think that Israeli democracy is good or very good, as do those who rate it as either bad or very bad (35%).
Tamar Hermann, academic director of IDI’s Guttman Center for Public Opinion and Policy Research, noted in her remarks that there is less anger in the population that might be anticipated. She said that while there is a distinct sense that democracy in Israel is gravely at risk, patriotism in Israel is higher than in most countries.
Those who identify as right-wing view both the overall situation and the state of Israeli democracy more positively, with 68% of the right-wing, 42% of the center and 24% of the left-wing saying that the situation is good or very good. Additionally, 84% of Jewish and Arab-Israelis said they would choose to live in Israel even if offered US or Western European citizenship.
Some 60% of the Jewish-Israeli public believe that the Israeli government should not take into account the views of Diaspora Jews when making important decisions (up from 46.5% in 2014), while 38% believe the government should consider their positions, according to IDI. Just over half of Jewish Israelis (51%) believe that Jews the world over share a common destiny.