Eighty-five percent of young Israelis believe their leaders should have a strong military background, according to a new study published Tuesday by the Center for Youth Leadership, a nonprofit organization that works to develop young Jewish leaders.
The study, conducted by Rafi Smith of the Smith Institute during the first week of November, sought to determine the attitudes toward leadership held by Jewish Israelis aged 14 to 30.
Asked to what extent they agreed that "Israeli leaders require plentiful military experience," 56% of respondents said they agreed "very much" and 29% agreed "somewhat."
In addition, the study found that 59% of Israelis felt that the current leadership was more concerned with "spin" than with "real problems," with only 6% saying they believed "very much" that the leadership was dealing with the country's real problems.
The reasons Israelis view military experience as essential to leadership were connected to whether they see Israel's security threats as "the most significant threat to the future existence of Israel." The study found that 36% said they believed the "security threat" was most significant. "The leadership crisis in Israel" and "crime and violence" tied for second place with 23% each. "The state of the economy" garnered only 13%.
According to the study, haredim did not fit the general pattern, with only 17% citing the security situation and an astounding 41% saying they were primarily concerned about crime and violence.
There is general agreement among Israelis from across the spectrum of religious observance that the biblical King David was the most important leader in history. Fully 52% of Israelis selected David as the "most important" leader in a list of other historical leaders. Napoleon Bonaparte came in a far second with 10%, followed by Winston Churchill with 8%.
In the contest for most important Jewish leader, Moses held a commanding lead, with 48% of Israelis citing him.
Second place went to Zionism's founding father Theodor Herzl with 19%, followed by David Ben-Gurion with 14%. The medieval legalist, philosopher and commentator Maimonides tied with Albert Einstein, with 5% each.