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August




The Peace Index:
August
 
2012
Date Published: 13/09/2012
Survey dates: 05/09/2012 - 06/09/2012

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The August Index


For the New Year, in the common spirit of stocktaking and new beginnings, this
month's Index explored general positions rather than positions on specific issues, though we paid some attention to the later as well.

More optimists than pessimists. On the eve of Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year), the Israeli Jewish population tends to be more optimistic (59%) than pessimistic (39%) about the coming year, despite the threats from outside and the economic problems and controversies within. Comparing the rates of optimism according to the respondents' self-definitions as right-wing, centrist, or left-wing in the political-security sphere indicates that while optimism exists in all three camps, it is espoused by a large majority of the right (67%), a small majority of the center (56%), and a large minority of the left (48%). These differences undoubtedly stem from the large overlap between the right-wing character of the present government and the political self-identification of many in the Jewish public, with over half (54%) defining themselves as right-wing, 30% positioning themselves in the center, and only 16% on the left. The picture in the Arab public is different: only 28% feel optimistic while 68% are pessimistic about the coming year.

At the same time, there are fears. Despite the overall optimism, the Jewish public is not at ease. The majority (55%) indeed feels safe with regard to the possibility that they will be harmed in an attack by an enemy state such as Iran. But regarding the economic sphere, while the higher rate feels secure, they are only slightly more numerous than those who do not. Regarding the ongoing economic situation, 51% feel secure compared to 46% who do not. A similar picture emerges for pensions: 48.5% feel secure while 40.5% do not. Indeed, there is only one issue—the chances of being a crime victim—where the rate of those in the Jewish public who feel secure (57%) considerably exceeds the rate of those who do not (38%).

In the Arab public, the majority is fearful of the future in each of these areas: 89% do not feel safe with regardto the chances of their being harmed in an attack by an enemy state such as Iran, 73% do not feel secure about the ongoing economic situation, and 67% feel insecure about their pensions. Similarly, 69% feel insecure about the chances of becoming a crime victim.

Interestingly, even though the optimism in the Jewish public is greater among right-wingers, they actually feel less secure regarding the ongoing economic situation (only 46%) than respondents in the center (57%) and on the left (63%). A similar pattern emerges for pension security, with corresponding rates of 46%, 50%, and 57% respectively. Not surprisingly, larger gaps on the issue of economic security emerge from a comparison by income level. Concerning the ongoing economic situation, the rate of those in the low-income group who feel secure comes to only 37%, while among those with middle and high incomes, the corresponding rates are 51% and 65%. Similar gaps are found regarding pension security. It appears, though, that one’s economic situation on the personal level has no influence on his or her level of optimism about the future; no substantial gaps were found between the three income groups.

Assessing the government’s performance. A gloomy picture of the country’s situation emerges from both the Jewish and the Arab public’s assessment of the government’s performance. Except for the security sphere, where the Jewish majority (62%) thinks the government is performing well, in all other areas we examined, the criticism of the government’s performance is sweeping and common to all the camps. In the Jewish public, the rates of negative assessments are 81% on the issue of reducing the social gaps, 78% on the government’s attentiveness to the public’s concerns, 68% on the fight against crime, and 59% on maintaining economic stability. A similar pattern emerges from the responses to a more specific question on economic policy, namely, whether the government acted correctly or incorrectly when it recently raised the prices of various products because of the deficit in the national budget: 76% think the government should have looked for other sources for reducing the deficit.

Given these findings, it seems the explanation for the Jewish public’s relative optimism should not be sought in how the Jewish public views the economic and social reality but, instead, in their beliefs and ideology in the political-security realm, which most of this public sees the government as faithfully serving. That also supports the familiar finding that the highest rate of those identifying themselves as right-wing is found among the low-income group (65%), with clearly lower corresponding rates of 56% and 45% in the middle- and high-income groups.

The Arab public’s assessment of the government’s performance is negative across the board, though its level of criticism is quite similar to and on certain issues is in fact lower than that of the Jewish public. Some 64% of the Arab public views the government as performing poorly in the security sphere, 76% think the same about maintaining economic stability, 79% say the government is performing poorly on reducing social gaps, 76% negatively assess its attentiveness to public concerns, and 75.5% give it a low grade for crime prevention.

The Migron evacuation. When it comes to managing West Bank affairs, the picture is more complex. A small majority of the Jewish public (45% vs. 39%) thinks the government acted correctly when it recently evacuated the Migron outpost in line with a Supreme Court ruling, as well as when it decided to allow thousands of Palestinians to enter Israel and visit its cities and the beach to celebrate the Eid al-Fitr holiday (51% in favor and 43.5% against). The large majority (65%), however, sees this approval as a specific gesture and not as leading precedent for an overall policy of allowing large numbers of Palestinians to resume working in Israel.

As for the Arab public, the rate of those who think the government acted correctly in obeying the court and evacuating Migron comes to 73%, with 7% holding the opposite opinion and the rest having no position on the matter. Ninety-two percent of this public thinks the government acted properly when it permitted Palestinians to enter Israel to celebrate the holiday. An interesting finding, though, with precedents in surveys of previous years, is that the Israeli Arab public is divided about allowing mass entry of Palestinians from the territories into Israel: 47% of the respondents favored such a move and about the same number opposed it.

the Iranian question. The Jewish public is split on the specific question of whether the government is behaving wisely or unwisely toward the United States on the issue of an attack on Iran, with a slightly higher rate viewing the government’s policy on this issue as wise (43%) than unwise (40%). The picture in the Arab public is the opposite, and the gap towards the negative is greater: 53% of Arab respondents feel the government’s policy is unwise while 39% think it is wise.

The Negotiations Index for August, 2012
The Peace Index project includes ongoing monitoring of the Israeli public's attitudes towards peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The monthly Negotiation Index is comprised of two questions, one focusing on public support for peace negotiations and the other on the degree to which the public believes that such talks will actually lead to peace. The aggregated replies to these two questions are calculated, combined, and standardized on a scale of 0-100, in which 0 represents total lack of support for negotiations and lack of belief in their potential to bear fruit, and 100 represents total support for the process and belief in its potential. Each month, the Negotiations Index presents two distinct findings, one for the general Israeli population and the other for Jewish Israelis.

Negotiations Index: General sample 40.7; Jewish sample 42.5.

Graph of the month: To what extent do you feel optimistic or pessimistic about the New Year? (%)

Graph of the month: To what extent do you feel optimistic or pessimistic about the New Year? (%)

The Peace Index is a project of the Evens Program in Mediation and Conflict Resolution at Tel Aviv University and the Israel Democracy Institute. This month's survey was conducted by telephone on September 5-6 by the Dahaf Institute. The survey included 516 respondents, who constitute a representative sample of the adult Jewish population of Israel. The measurement error for a sample of this size is 4.5%; statistical processing was done by Ms. Yasmin Alkalay.



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