Eighty percent of Israeli Jews believe the actions of the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) and Arab sectors during the COVID-19 crisis have negatively affected Israeli societal cohesion, according to a new study by the Jewish People Policy Institute.
In addition, a small majority of Israeli Jews and Arabs believe the two groups of citizens have a shared future, and a majority of Israeli Jews believe they have a shared future with the Diaspora, the JPPI’s 2021 Israel Pluralism Index indicated.
The survey was conducted by Prof. Camil Fuchs of Tel Aviv University. It included 603 respondents in the Jewish sector and 203 respondents in the non-Jewish sector, with a margin of error of 4% for the Jewish sector and a 9.7% margin of error in the non-Jewish sector.
The coronavirus crisis caused severe ruptures in Israeli society, with splits along different religious, ethnic and political divides.
In particular, both the haredi and Arab communities witnessed large-scale violations of coronavirus regulations, leading to high levels of infections in those sectors at different times.
Large weddings and funerals in both sectors caused outrage among the general population, while widespread civil disobedience in the haredi sector, including when tens of thousands of families sent their children to school in defiance of government orders, further exacerbated the secular public’s frustration.
According to the JPPI’s new survey, 81% of Jewish Israelis agreed with the statement: “The behavior of the haredim/the Arabs during the coronavirus pandemic undermined Israeli unity.”
Haredi respondents mostly said the behavior of the two sectors did not undermine civic unity, while Arab respondents tended to say the behavior of both sectors did have a negative impact.
The study also found that 62% of Jewish Israelis believe Israeli and Diaspora Jews have a shared future, and 72% feel an “attachment” to all Jews in Israel and abroad.
Regarding Jewish-Arab relations in the State of Israel, about 58% of Jewish Israelis said the two communities have a shared future, and 44% said there is an attachment between the groups.
About 58% of Arab-Israelis said there was an attachment between Jews and Arabs in Israel, and 52% said both groups had a shared future.
The survey also looked at attitudes to Israel’s Jewish character and religious life.
Some 40% of Jewish Israelis said the country should remain “about as Jewish as it is today,” 37% said “more Jewish,” and 23% said “less Jewish.”
About 1% said they would prefer Israel to cease being a Jewish state.
Right-wing Jewish Israelis supported giving legal preference to Jews over non-Jews, the study indicated.
Some 61% of those defining themselves as right-wing and 51% of those defining themselves as Center-Right supported the assertion that “a Jewish state must give legal preference to Jews over non-Jews.”
Nevertheless, large majorities of the public back policies that provide increased choice in religious matters, the survey found.
Seventy-one percent of the Jewish Israeli public believes there should be some form of public transportation available on Shabbat, according to the survey.
Sixty-six percent of Jewish Israelis support providing for civil marriage in the Jewish state, with 75% of them defining the issue as “important,” it found.
Among the 34% of Jewish Israelis who oppose civil marriage, some 60% believe the issue to be “important.”
Eighty percent of the Jewish Israelis said they support IDF enlistment of yeshiva students, the survey showed.