83% of Israelis want freedom of religion

83% of Israelis want fre

haredi family 248 88  (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
haredi family 248 88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Eighty-three percent of Israel's Jewish population supports freedom of religion and thought, according to a recent Smith Institute poll, although most haredim - 53% - do not believe Israeli Jews should be granted these freedoms. The survey, published Sunday, was initiated by Hidush, an organization that promotes equality and freedom of religion, and queried 1,200 Jewish Israelis. Sixty-three percent of those surveyed expressed dismay over the influence haredi political parties have on religious and political matters, and 43% stated that if a political party were to actively promote freedom of religion - in effect, separation of synagogue and state - they would be more likely to vote for that party. According to the survey, half of the participants maintained that tensions between Jews and Arabs were the most acute in Israeli society, while tensions between religious and secular Jews ranked second. Additional results showed that 84% of the Israeli public opposes exemption of yeshiva students from mandatory military service, while 71% agree that financial support for yeshiva students and families with many children should be decreased, to encourage haredi men to work. Some 95% of immigrants from the former Soviet Union expressed opposition to "the Orthodox monopoly on marriage," which prevents those who are not Jewish from marrying Jews. Sixty-four percent expressed support for civil or Reform marriage ceremonies. Uri Regev, the director of Hidush, stated that the findings proved most of the Israeli public supports "dealing seriously with the issues of social equality and freedom of religion," adding that the Israeli public would certainly not be "reconciled to the politicization of religion." Kadima MK Nachman Shai commented that the survey proved "a reminder that the public is fed up with the overindulgence of the haredi public" by the government, clearly showing "that a remarkable majority of the general population supports freedom of religion and thought in the State of Israel." The survey's margin of error was 2.9%.