Poll: Haredi parties distancing Jews from religion

Hiddush survey reveals 67% Jews feel haredim alienating public; 76% Jews unsatisfied with gov't handling of religious issues.

HAREDI MEN march to protest ‘Tal Law’ alternatives 370 (photo credit: Screenshot)
HAREDI MEN march to protest ‘Tal Law’ alternatives 370
(photo credit: Screenshot)
A new poll conducted for the Hiddush religious freedom lobbying group revealed that 67 percent of the Jewish population believes that the activities of haredi political parties distance the public from Judaism.
The poll also showed that 76% of the Jewish population is not satisfied with the government’s handling of religious issues, and 64%, including 56% of religious people, thinks discrimination against women in the public domain should be a criminal offense.
Hiddush’s fourth annual poll, conducted by the Rafi Smith group using a sample of 800 people, is a barometer of attitudes to issues of religion and state.
The organization’s director, Reform rabbi and attorney Uri Regev, said that the poll once again demonstrated an “unacceptable gap” between the stance of the public which wants freedom of religion and the position of the government which “dodges any confrontation with the haredi parties.”
“The public wants mandatory [national] service for everyone, core curriculum subjects [to be taught to all school children], civil marriages, public transport on Shabbat, cutting benefits for yeshiva students and a struggle against discrimination against women,” Regev continued.
Instead of this, he said, the public is getting “at best incompetence and at worst political deals and machinations” between the two haredi parties, Shas and United Torah Judaism.
Further trends recorded by the poll showed an increase in support for freedom of religion and conscience, from 79% in January 2010 to 85% in the current survey.
Additionally, 56% of the Jewish population thinks that religion and state should be separated completely, and 65% is disturbed by the influence of the haredi parties on such issues.
Several requests for comment made to haredi members of Knesset by The Jerusalem Post were unanswered.
Shaul Farber, an Orthodox rabbi and director of the ITIM religious rights advocacy group, said that haredi parties are a reality of the democratic process.
“The challenge is to have the religious establishment take a klal yisrael – all Jews – perspective rather than a myopic one.
Religious functionaries have been corrupted by their perceived power and all too often don’t serve the general public in a meaningful way,” the rabbi said.
Regarding the issue of haredi national service, 83% of the Jewish population believes that yeshiva students should be obligated to perform some form of military or national service, according to the poll, and 72% said they opposed the claim that Torah study in yeshivot and not military service provides Israel with security.
Just over than 70% of those responding to the poll said that haredi-secular tensions constitute either the most or second-most serious inter-communal tensions in the country.
Other findings revealed that 63% of the non-haredi population and 57% of the general Jewish population think that the haredi sector benefits from positive discrimination in the distribution of state welfare benefits in relation to their own sector.
Seventy-eight percent supported a reduction in state support for yeshivot and families with large numbers of children in order to encourage haredi men to join the work force.