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The Peace Index:
Date Published: 04/04/2016
Survey dates: 28/03/2016 - 30/03/2016

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This month’s Peace Index survey focused on worldwide and local terror, Israel’s relationship with Turkey, and the U.S. elections.

The fear of being harmed in terror attacks: Despite the decrease in the number of attacks, the rate of those in the Jewish public who fear that they or one of the people important to them will be harmed in the current terror wave is still high (69%) and even a bit higher than the fear that was measured in last month’s survey (66%). In the Arab public the fear is even higher (76% this month compared to 73% last month). A segmentation of the Jewish interviewees by their self-definition as right-wing, centrist, or left-wing revealed that in all three cases a majority feels such fear, with the highest rate on the right (74%) and the lowest on the left (59%). Those who defined themselves as centrist are in between, with 62% expressing such fear.

The resilience of the Israeli and Palestinian societies: To what extent does this ongoing fear erode the resilience of Israeli society? We asked: “If the current situation of violence continues, which of the two societies—Israeli or Palestinian—will in your assessment be able to withstand it longer?” The answers show that, in the Jewish public, the rate of those who see Israeli society as more resilient (62%) is vastly higher than the rate who view Palestinian society’s resilience as greater (5%). The rest are divided between those who believe both societies can keep withstanding the violence (21.5%) and a small minority who consider that neither of them can withstand it over time (6%). A segmentation by political camps shows that in each of the three, the highest rate assesses Israeli society’s resilience as greater, though the rate of those who do so varies: 69% on the right, 59% in the center, and 44% on the left.

Note that when this question was presented in May 2001, that is, at the height of the Second Intifada, the corresponding rates were: Israeli society is more resilient—62%, Palestinian society—12%, both to the same extent—12%, neither of them—7%. In other words, despite a difference of 15 years between the two measurements with all that has happened meanwhile, the Jewish public’s pattern of assessment is very similar. At the same time, it cannot be ignored that, while no change has occurred in the Jewish public’s belief in Israeli society’s resilience, there has been a sharp decline in the assessment of Palestinian society’s resilience and almost a doubling of the rate who believe that both societies can keep standing firm despite the conflict between them.

The Israeli Arab public sees it differently. The highest rate, 38%, think Palestinian society’s resilience is higher, 17% ascribe higher resilience to the Jewish society, 21%—almost the same as in the Jewish public—believe both societies can withstand the situation over time, and 8% consider that neither can do so. Compared to the 2001 index, a sharp decrease emerges in the view of Palestinian society’s resilience (in 2001 56% of the Arab interviewees thought it was more resilient than the Israeli one), a doubling of the rate of those who believe both societies can stand firm over time (in 2001 only 11%), and a slight rise in the rate of those who think Israeli society is more resilient (in 2001 only 11% thought so).

The fight against terror and human and civil rights: The Jewish public is divided on the question of whether, to fight terror effectively, one can ignore human and civil rights. Forty-nine percent agree that it is permissible to do so and 46% do not agree (the gap between those who agree and those who do not is not statistically significant). On this question the disparities between the political camps are very large. Among those who defined themselves as right-wing, a majority (61%) thinks one can ignore human and civil rights under conditions of fighting terror. In the center, a large minority agrees (44%) but the majority (52%) does not, while on the left only a small minority (18%) agrees that it is permissible to ignore human and civil rights when battling terror. Among the Israeli Arabs there is a consensus (90%) that these rights cannot be ignored when contending with terror.

Neutralizing terrorists: Recently it was reported that the Sephardi chief rabbi, Yitzhak Yosef, had said that “it is a commandment to kill a terrorist who comes at you with a knife.” Especially against the backdrop of the heated debate about the soldier who shot the neutralized terrorist in Hebron, we were interested to know what the public thinks on this matter. As earlier surveys found on issues similar to the shooting in Hebron, a large majority of the Jewish public (66.5%) agrees with the media quote from Rabbi Yosef (who later qualified it). A segmentation of the responses to this question by religiosity shows that on all levels of religiosity, a majority—though of different sizes—favors Rabbi Yosef’s position: among the haredim 94% agree with it, among the religious 89.5%, among the religious traditional 68%, among the nonreligious traditional 72%, and among the secular 52%.

At the same time, interestingly, a majority (54%) holds the view that it is inappropriate for rabbis to publicly express an opinion on security issues of this kind. The segmentation by religiosity on this question reveals that among the haredim, religious, and religious traditional, a majority considers it appropriate for rabbis to give an opinion on security issues (79%, 74%, and 52.5% respectively), but among the nonreligious traditional and the secular only a minority see it that way (41% and 21% respectively).

Is Palestinian terror the same in nature as worldwide terror?We asked: “After the latest terror attacks, Prime Minister Netanyahu said that worldwide terror and Palestinian terror are the same phenomenon and are fed by the same sources. Others claim that they are two different phenomena: worldwide terror is fed by radical Islam while Palestinian terror is fed by the desire to get free of the Israeli occupation. With which position do you agree more?” A clear majority of the Jewish public (64%) agrees with Netanyahu’s assertion that worldwide terror and Palestinian terror are fed by the same sources. Less than one-third (30%) agree with the claim that these are two different phenomena. That is, the Jewish public, like the prime minister, ascribes the same weight to how the occupation and how radical Islam affects terror, which may explain why the majority of the Jewish public believes Palestinian terror would not end even if the occupation were to end. A segmentation by self-affiliation with a political camp shows that among those who define themselves as right-wing, a majority (80%) identifies with Netanyahu’s position, compared to 51% in the center and a minority (26%) on the left. In the Israeli Arab public, the majority opinion is the opposite of that in the Jewish public: 65% think international terror and Palestinian terror are different phenomena that are fed from different springs.

International cooperation in fighting terror: There is broad agreement in the Jewish public (78%) that if, in return for help in fighting terror, international actors demand that Israel not use certain means, such as targeted assassinations or home demolitions, Israel should not agree to this demand. The Arab public thinks the opposite: 82% say Israel should accede to the international community’s view of the permissible means in fighting terror. At the same time, the Jewish public is divided on the question of whether, to fight terror effectively, Israel can or cannot rely only on itself: 48.5% think it can while 47% believe that it also needs the help of international actors. The distribution of the Arab interviewees’ responses to this question was very similar.

Israeli-Turkish cooperation? Although about half of the Jewish public holds the view that Israel can only rely on itself in fighting terror, a large majority (63%) favors Israeli-Turkish cooperation in this fight. One can attribute these positions to two factors: first, a sense of commonality of fate, especially in light of the fact that there were Israeli victims in the Istanbul terror attack and the Turkish leaders immediately expressed condolences, and second, the recent reports about warming ties between the two countries and the surmounting of the Marmara crisis. A slightly larger majority (67%) also favors cooperation with Turkey in other spheres, such as trade and tourism. The Arab public, too, shows great interest in security cooperation with Turkey both in terror-fighting (62%) and in tourism and trade (68%). Until a few years ago Turkey was a popular tourist destination for Israelis, both Jews and Arabs.

European countries’ ability to fight terror: After the Brussels terror attack, some Israeli cabinet ministers expressed contempt for European countries’ ability to fight terror effectively. It turns out that a clear majority (69%) of the Jewish public agrees with that view. At the same time , this public is divided on whether it was right or not right from a diplomatic-international standpoint to express this criticism, justified or not: 47% say it was inappropriate to express it compared to 43.5% who assert the opposite. In the Arab public a very high rate had no opinion on these issues, while the rate who agreed with the ministers’ criticism of the European countries’ terror-fighting ability was considerably higher than the rate who disagreed: 47% vs. 27%. And as in the Jewish public, the rate among the Arabs who think it was not right to publicly express this criticism from a diplomatic-international standpoint exceeds the rate of those who think the opposite by 41% to 30%.

And as for the U.S. presidential race, in the Jewish public Hillary Clinton currently holds the lead—both as the candidate who, if elected, will serve U.S. interests better (43% compared to 24% who see Trump as preferable from a U.S. standpoint) and as the candidate who will be better for Israel (40% compared to 30% who think so about Trump). In the Israeli Arab public a very high rate did not decide on the two questions, and the highest rate of those who did have an opinion saw Clinton and Trump as good to the same extent, regarding both U.S. and Israeli interests.

Negotiations Index: 44.8 (Jewish sample: 40.5)

The Peace Index is a project of the Evens Program for Mediation and Conflict Resolution at Tel Aviv University and the Guttman Center for Public Opinion and Policy Research of the Israel Democracy Institute. This month's survey was conducted by telephone on March 28-30, 2016, by the Midgam Research Institute. The survey included 600 respondents, who constitute a representative national sample of the adult population aged 18 and over. The maximum measurement error for the entire sample is ±4.1% at a confidence level of 95%. Statistical analyses were done by Ms. Yasmin Alkalay. http://www.peaceindex.org


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