Happy but skeptical: How Israelis are feeling as the country turns 68

Most Israelis are proud to be citizens, however the public give a failing grade to politicians, and are more concerned about the economy than security threats.

Flag of Israel (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Flag of Israel
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
In celebration of the State of Israel's 68th Independence Day, The Jerusalem Post's sister publication Maariv produced a wide-ranging poll on attitudes in the country.
The findings show that the majority of the country's citizens are proud to be Israelis, and believe that Israel is a good place to live. However, there are clear apprehensions about the possibility of a coming war, and low opinions on politicians.
Given the opportunity, Israelis most want to go out for dinner or to a pub with Shimon Peres, and enjoy some nightlife with movie star Gal Gadot or Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked.
84% of Israelis are proud to be Israeli. More than half of them (54%) are very proud of, with 16% saying that they are proud. 3% of them stated that they are "not at all proud." Among the religious, 81% are very proud to be Israelis, compared with 50% among the secular.
The main thing that ties Israelis to their country is family (39%). Others point to the historical connection or the Bible (21%), political independence, language, friends and even one percent of responders answered that it's because of the beautiful weather.
There is a consensus among the public that the state of Israel is a good place to live. 76% believe that Israel really good place to live. 28% of them felt that it is a very good place, and 48% said Pretty good.
In contrast, 24% are disappointed and complain that it's not good to live in Israel. 4% of them say that it's not at all good to live here. The average score in that context that the citizens of the country give satisfaction with life in Israel is a 7 out of 10.
69% of Israelis are not considering moving abroad at all, compared to 28% who say that they would likely consider it as an option. The main reason for leaving is a respondee's personal economic situation (63%). Then, in descending order: the democratic deficit in Israeli society, the increase in the number of haredim in the country, the fear of war and the internal security situation.
The vast majority of those surveyed, 73%, believe that Israel after 68 years of independence is secure, compared to 21% who believe that the existence of the state is faced with an existential threat and is therefore insecure.
Somewhat surprisingly, most Israelis see economic issues as the most pressing problem facing Israel, over security. 27% believe that the cost of living and economic disparities are the main problem facing the nation, compared with 18% indicating the recent wave of terror, and 15% who viewed the threat posed by Hamas and Hezbollah as the main problem facing the country.
At least Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon can be happy that only 8% see housing prices as the country's major issue.
In the same context, 52% of Israelis are pessimistic about the possibility of improving the economic and social disparities in the coming decade, compared to 42% who are somewhat optimistic.
This similarly applies to the security situation. 54% are pessimistic about improvement in the situation over the next decade, compared with 42% who responded that they are optimistic. Perhaps this explains why 48% of the population are quite apprehensive about the possibility of war breaking out in the near term, and another 15% described themselves as very concerned.
This is compared to 28% who are not so afraid, and another 6% who are not at all afraid of the possibility of a war.
Also entering into the national consciousness are concerns over international boycotts and isolation measures imposed on Israel. 32% are concerned to some extent of the possibility of boycotts and isolation, but most of the public, 64%, is not afraid.
Independence Day is not improving Israelis' feelings toward politicians - the average score given to Israel's politicians was 4.4 out of 10. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is also not seen as performing to a satisfactory standard - he got 4.7 out of 10.
One of the most intriguing questions in the survey was: "Which politician would you most like to have lunch or spend time with in the pub?" Former President Shimon Peres (12%) leads Netanyahu and Lapid (10% each), Naftali Bennett (8%), Isaac Herzog, Minister of Defense Moshe Ya'alon and Ahmad Tibi (2%).
It also turns out that no one would want to spend time with the Ministers Yuval Steinitz or Yariv Levin.
In contrast, 23% of Israelis would like to spend time in the company of Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot, leading by a wide margin over Supermodel Bar Refaeli (15%). In third place was Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked with 11%.
The survey was conducted by Panels Folitiks Ltd. led by Menachem Lazar and consisted of 501 participants, a representative sample of Israel's adult population. The survey was conducted on Sunday and its maximum sampling error is 4.3%.