Study: Public trusts Winograd report

Hebrew University poll says 80% trust interim report, most of them placing "complete trust" in its findings.

Israelis have a great deal of faith in the Winograd Committee's interim report on the Second Lebanon War, according to a new study by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The interim report was published on April 30, and the panel's final report is due on Wednesday. Eighty percent of respondents expressed a high level of trust in the interim report (26% trusted the report and 55% placed "complete trust" in the document.) Jews trust the committee's findings more than Arabs, older citizens more than younger ones, and those living in cities in the central region more than residents of the North. The study was conducted by Dr. Raanan Sulitzeanu-Kenan from the Federman School of Public Policy and Government at the Hebrew University and Dr. Yifat Holtzman-Gazit from the College of Management's Law School. Respondents trusted the interim report mainly because it reinforced the public criticism of the government's management of the war, according to the survey. The Winograd Committee was appointed by the government. Although critics said a full-blown state commission of inquiry, appointed by the president of the Supreme Court, would have been more appropriate, and that a government-appointed committee was not the right body to investigate the government, the study showed that the content of the interim report was the decisive factor for the public. The more critical the report, the more likely respondents were to trust it, the researchers said. "In Israel, just like in other places in the world, the political dynamic following a crisis is characterized by a public demand to establish a state commission of inquiry," the researchers concluded. "However, despite the fact that a government committee was appointed, there are no signs that show that the public's trust in the [interim] Winograd Report was affected." Sulitzeanu-Kenan added that the findings match the conclusions of a study he had conducted in Britain according to which investigating committees receive "conditional trust" from the public. "An committee of investigation will win the public's trust only if it reaches conclusions that are accepted by the public," he said. The study was based on two polls. The first one was conducted among 1,001 people in September 2006, when the Winograd Committee was formed, and the second was performed in May 2007, after the interim report was released, among 500 out of those who were surveyed in the first poll.