Should moral considerations influence foreign & security policy? - survey

A large majority of Israeli Jews feel that Israel is a moral country and that the IDF is a moral army.

Survey (Illustrative) (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Survey (Illustrative)
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)

The Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI) released the results of their recent public opinion poll looking into modern attitudes of Israeli Jews toward a variety of hot-button topics related to the nature of Israel's existence as a Jewish nation, and the direction of Israeli foreign policy. 

The survey only dealt with the views of Israeli Jews because a large portion of the Israeli Arab population is, according to the JPPI, "not reconciled to the state's designation as 'Jewish.'"

Per the JPPI website, the main findings of the report were: 

  • A large majority of Israeli Jews feel that Israel is a moral country and that the IDF is a moral army.
  • A large majority believes that in foreign and defense policy, interests and moral considerations must be balanced.
  • However, the more prevalent tendency is for a balance that prioritizes interests over morality.
  • There is a clear connection between political views (right-leaning) and the assessment that Israel is a moral nation.
  • There is a significant relationship between political views (left-leaning) and a preference for moral policy.
  • Most feel that the main lesson of the Holocaust is the need for determination in protecting Jewish lives.
  • Those whose preference derives from Israel being a “Jewish state” tend to prefer interests over morality.

Morals vs Interests

 FROM HIS first day on the job, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid sought to make a clean break with past policy.  (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90) FROM HIS first day on the job, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid sought to make a clean break with past policy. (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

Individuals surveyed generally felt that Israel's interests should come first when crafting foreign policy, and moral considerations should be secondary.

However, only 13% of respondents agreed that moral considerations should not be included at all in foreign policy and defense policy, while 83% were more interested in balancing Israel's interests and moral values. 

Israeli Jews on the war in Ukraine

When asked about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, scarcely any of those surveyed felt that Israel should have sided with Russia against Ukraine. Yet, those who would have wanted to risk firmer criticism of Russia or more vocal support from Israel's government for Ukraine were also relatively few - 17%.

The initiative for the JPPI survey came from the recent moral and policy dilemmas posed by the war in Ukraine. It was conducted in preparation for a JPPI conference in early June which dealt with this topic, to gauge the attitudes of Israeli Jews on such large-scale moral issues.