An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man is seen through a damaged car window after a rocket fired from Gaza landed in the southern city of Ashdod, November 16, 2012.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Muslim Arabs, haredim and those on the political Left are seen as contributing the least to Israeli society, according to a new study on pluralism in Israel conducted for the Jewish People Policy Institute.
The survey, published on Sunday, examined the extent to which the different social sectors and groupings comprising Israeli society are able to equally exercise their differences in the public sphere. It was conducted by Panels Politics on a sample of 1,000 Jewish individuals of whom 30.4 percent defined themselves as secular, 22.5% traditional, 20.8% as secular traditional, 10.3% as national-religious, 10.1% as haredi and 4% as liberal religious.
According to the survey, which was supported by the William Davidson Foundation, respondents were asked to rate different sectors by their contribution to Israeli society on a scale of one to four with one being negative and four being positive. The average score for the 22 sectors polled was 2.95.
Muslim Arabs came in last with a combined score of 1.73, followed by haredim at 2.39 and “left-wingers” with 2.46. Settlers were perceived as having a lower than average contribution to society, scoring 2.8, Christian Arabs received a score of 2.5 and Reform Jews got 2.6.
The highest scoring group was soldiers who received a score of 3.84, followed by, Ashkenazim at 3.46, the secular with 3.44, Mizrahim (Jewish Israelis of North African or Middle Eastern heritage) at 3.37, kibbutzniks with 3.36 and the national-religious at 3.33.
JPPI senior fellow Shmuel Rosner, who led the project, said the results show the discrepancy between people’s perception of a politically loaded societal label and a more neutral description.
This, he said, could explain the high scores for “Ashkenazim,” “seculars” and “kibbutzniks” compared with the low scores given to “left-wingers,” many of whom are frequently perceived to be Ashkenazi and secular, and from the kibbutz movement.
Similarly, the national-religious sector scored highly on its contribution to society, whereas settlers, large numbers of whom are national-religious, received a low rank.
JPPI’s survey also revealed that those on the left of the political spectrum feel much less comfortable “being themselves” in Israel, as compared to those on the political right.
When those polled where asked how comfortable they feel being themselves in the Jewish state, 64% of those on the Right and 62% of the moderate right said they feel very comfortable, compared to just 35.4% on the Left who feel very comfortable and 46% of the moderate left who feel very comfortable.
Also, 29% of left-wingers said they felt “quite uncomfortable” compared to just 2% of right-wingers, while almost 10% of left-wingers said they felt “not comfortable” compared to practically no self-declared centrists, along with those on the moderate right and right-wingers.
Of the 1,000 people polled, 4.9% identified as being left-wing, 10.5% as moderately left-wing, 25.5% as being centrist, 27.4% said they were on the moderate right, and 22% said they were right-wing.
JPPI President Avinoam Bar Yosef said the survey, which will be conducted once a year to create a pluralism index, “is intended to provide a yearly and objective measurement as to the ability of each Jew to feel at home in the Jewish state.”
Other findings of the study revealed that 60% of Israeli Jews believe there should be civil marriage in the country; some 44% would like non-Jews to attend their children’s schools; and 56% think the government should be more considerate of minority opinions.
However, 48% of those surveyed said there is too much freedom of expression in the country.
The main goal of the study, according to Rosner, was to evaluate the level of pluralism, tolerance and acceptance of the other in Israeli society.
“By listening to the Israeli national debate, looking at social media and the debate in the news media, one might get impression that Israeli society is torn about between different groups who are at one another’s throats,” said Rosner.
“In fact, in our survey, we see the complexity of Israeli society and that there are many positive trends happening, that we crave unity and acceptability and that we don’t judge one another as harshly as you might think from the tone of the societal debate,” he said.