Poll: 64% of Israelis want a Jewish PM

Only 47% of Arabs say democratic Israel more important than its Jewish nature.

Olmert herzl 298.88 (photo credit: Channel 10 [file])
Olmert herzl 298.88
(photo credit: Channel 10 [file])
A clear majority of Israelis - 64 percent - including 31% of Arabs, take a positive view of legislation that would ensure that only a Jew can be elected prime minister, according to a new poll. Seventy-seven percent of respondents support equal treatment for all Israelis without, regardless of ethnic or religious background. However only 61% said Jews and Arabs should be treated equally with regard to budget allocations. Researchers questioned a representative sample of 609 Israelis in Hebrew, Russian and Arabic. The survey was commissioned by the Israel office of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation policy institute and conducted by Jerusalem-based Keevoon Research and Strategy organization, and had a margin of error of 4.1%. While only 47% of Arab Israelis said Israel's democratic character was more important than its Jewish nature, an even lower proportion - 37% - of Hebrew- and Russian-speaking Israelis felt the state's Jewish character was more important than its democratic attributes. Nearly all respondents - 97% - agree that tolerance toward one another is important, while 33% believe Jews and Arabs should live in separate neighborhoods. Israelis put security over democratic principles, with 75%, including 21% of Arabs, supporting the removal of any restrictions on the IDF and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) when it comes to preventing terrorist attacks - even if it means violating a suspect's rights. Eighty-nine percent of respondents agree with State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss that government corruption is "a danger to democracy and the rule of law" and "political corruption is like a cancer deep in the body of the state." Between 64% and 70% could not identify a political party or personality that represents liberal values such as civil rights, equal opportunities, free market competition, pluralism, openness and limited involvement of the state. Forty-four percent said a party representing these ideals was "necessary" and 56% would vote for it. "The conflicting results confirm that the Israeli public attaches supreme importance to liberal values and democratic institutions, even though they are unwilling to implement these values in specific areas," said Dr. Hans Georg Fleck, the foundation's representative in Israel. "This seems to be as a result of the unique and difficult security situation in the region, which leads to an increased need for security and to fortify democracy."