Dome of the rock and Israeli flag.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
A new poll conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute found that almost 40 percent of Israeli Jews said a “Jewish state” law would damage the interests of the state, with just over 31% saying it would promote the country’s interests.
But 73% of Israeli Jews believe that there is no contradiction between Israel being both a Jewish and democratic state.
However, respondents expressed grave skepticism about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s motives for backing the law, with 61.3% saying he supports the bill to boost his popularity with the country’s right-wing and the settler movement, and just 29.7% saying the prime minister is acting out of a sincere concern for strengthening the Jewish dimension of the state.
The survey included 602 respondents constituting a representative national sample of the adult population over 18 years old and was conducted between December 1 and 3.
The results, part of the IDI’s monthly peace index poll, come just after the Knesset was dissolved Tuesday, in part due to fierce opposition within the outgoing government to the various drafts of the Jewish state bill proposed by right-leaning members of the now defunct coalition.
Asked whether or not the “Jewish state” law would promote the interests of the state or damage them, 39.5% of respondents said it would have a negative effect, with 31.2% saying it would benefit the country, 21.5% saying it would neither promote or damage Israeli interests, and 7.7% saying they did not know.
But 52% of respondents also said that passing a “Jewish state” law would not contradict the principles embodied in Israel’s Declaration of Independence stipulating that Israel would be a Jewish and democratic state. Just over 35% said such a law would contradict the principles of the declaration of independence, and 12% said they do not know.
Similarly, when questioned regarding any possible contradiction between Israel being Jewish and democratic, 73% of Israeli Jews said there was such contradiction, including 77% of the self-identified right, 76% of the center, and 57% of the left. Just over 24% of Israeli Jews said they believed there was a contradiction between the two.
Just under 88% of Jewish Israelis said it is important to them that Israel is a democratic country, and 12% said it is not very important.
Another issue which the poll dealt with was that of employing Israeli Arab citizens.
Following the wave of terrorist attacks in October and November, Ashkelon Mayor Itamar Shimoni said last month he was halting the employment of Arab workers doing construction work on bomb shelters in kindergartens in the city. His comments were heavily criticized by political leaders including Netanyahu.
The IDI poll showed that 52% of Jewish Israelis oppose the idea of banning Israeli Arab workers from working at “sensitive” sites such as kindergartens and 43% support of such steps.
Just over 25% of respondents said they opposed employing Arab doctors and nurses in hospitals and nursing institutes while almost 69% said they supported employing Arab medical professionals.
More than half (57.5%) of Israeli Jews said they support peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, with 39% opposed; 74.2% said that negotiations would not lead to peace in the coming years with 24.5% saying they would.
Nearly 54% said it is preferable to renew the currently stalled negotiations with PA President Mahmoud Abbas based on the premise of two states for two peoples, while 39.6% said refraining from negotiation and strengthening Jewish settlements in the West Bank is preferable.
A little over 59% agreed with a comment made by Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman earlier this year when he said that “unity of the people is more important than unity of the land,” while 33.7% said they disagree and 7.2% said they do not know.