MAIN --> -->

The Peace Index:
Date Published: 02/08/2016
Survey dates: 25/07/2016 - 27/07/2016

Quick navigation on the page

Prof. Ephraim Yaar and Prof. Tamar Hermann

On the background of recent disputes between the IDF senior command and certain groups in the Israeli Jewish public, and between IDF circles and senior political leaders, this month the Peace Index focused on aspects of the IDF’s relationships with the general public and with the political leadership. In the same broad context, we probed the issue of the existential justification of an army radio station like Galei Tzahal and its degree of political neutrality at present. Finally, we looked into how the public perceives the Second Lebanon War now that ten years have passed since the conflict.

The degree of closeness between the value system of the IDF senior command, on the one hand, and the value systems of the general public and of the political leadership, on the other: About half of the entire Jewish public (49%) sees the IDF senior command’s value system as close to that of the general Israeli public, while 37% view these value systems as distant from each other. A similar pattern of responses comes to light regarding the closeness between the IDF senior command’s value system and that of the political leadership, with 44.5% perceiving these value systems as close to each other and 37% perceiving them as distant from each other. These findings indicate that currently at least about one-third of the Jewish public does not see the values of the army as harmonious with those of the general public or of the political leadership. A segmentation by religiosity reveals that only among the traditional and the religious does a majority perceive harmony between the army’s values and the society’s (62%), and that among the haredim the lowest rate sees such a concordance (40%). A segmentation by political camps produced a very interesting result: among those who located themselves in the center, a majority (59%) viewed the IDF senior command’s value system and the general public’s as close to each other. On the left and the moderate left, about half held that perception, and on the moderate right, 54%. However, among those who defined themselves as on the right (not moderate), only 38% regarded the two value systems as close to each other. Indeed, on the “hard” right about half (49%) do not see concordance between the IDF senior command’s values and those of the general public. As for the degree of closeness between the IDF senior command’s value system and that of the political leadership, the picture is different: on the left only a minority saw harmony there (left—30%, moderate left—27%), while in the center and on the right there was also a minority but a larger one (43% in both cases). Only in the moderate-right camp did a majority perceive concordance between the IDF senior command’s value system and that of the political leadership (57%).

Pluralism in the army—desirable or not? At the same time, when we presented a more specific values-based question—whether it is good or not good for the IDF to espouse a pluralist and open value system, including acceptance of “others” (such as homosexuals and lesbians), it turns out that a large majority of the Jewish public says it is good for the IDF to adhere to a liberal approach. Sixty-nine percent hold that view compared to less than one-quarter (23%) who hold the opposite one. As could be expected, a segmentation by religiosity of the respondents revealed a large majority of the secular (81%) and the nonreligious traditional (76%) who have this opinion. Such a majority exists among the religious traditional and the religious as well, though it is smaller (52% and 57%, respectively). As for the haredim, only a minority of them (29%) favor a pluralist approach by the army toward groups of “others” of the kind mentioned in the question. A segmentation by political camps revealed a majority of supporters of pluralism in the IDF in all the camps, though with large disparities in the size of this majority (left—81.5%, moderate left—80%, center—79%, moderate right—70%, right—50%).

After we found a majority on the previous question, it came as no surprise that a majority (52%) disagrees with the claim by Rabbi Yigal Levenstein, head of the Bnei David premilitary academy, that in recent years the IDF has adopted an overly pluralist and open worldview that contravenes the Halacha and poses difficulties for religious-Zionist soldiers and officers. The rate agreeing with Rabbi Levenstein’s statement comes to 33%, and the rest do not know. However, here a clear-cut line of demarcation emerges between the haredim and the religious, on the one hand, with most of them supporting Rabbi Levenstein’s position (69% and 70% respectively), and the religious traditional, nonreligious traditional, and secular, on the other, only a small minority of whom agree with Levenstein’s view (33%, 23%, and 22% respectively). A segmentation by political camps shows a majority supporting Levenstein’s position only among those who located themselves on the right (57%). On the moderate right, in the center, and on the moderate left and the left, only a minority—of different magnitudes—agreed with it.

A military order vs. a rabbinical ruling: Overall, the Jewish public takes a firm stance on the question of whom a religious soldier should obey if a contradiction emerges between a military order and a rabbinical ruling. Seventy-two percent say that a soldier should obey the military order, while only 12% consider that he should obey the rabbinical ruling. A segmentation of the responses to this question by religiosity revealed a majority in all the groups (secular—91%, nonreligious traditional—78%, religious traditional—63.5%, religious—53%) who think a military order is overriding—with the exception of the haredim, among whom, as expected, a clear-cut majority (71%) believe that when such a contradiction occurs, the soldier should obey the rabbinical ruling.

We then looked into the public’s positions on the army radio station, Galei Tzahal, which has recently been at the center of some controversies. We should first point out that a question about the interviewees’ listening habits revealed that Galei Tzahal is second in popularity only to music stations. That is, among stations not mainly featuring music, the public listens to Galei Tzahal the most.

The necessity of Galei Tzahal: When we asked, “In your opinion, does Israel currently need or not need an army radio station like Galei Tzahal?” the majority of the Jewish public (56%) responded positively while 37.5% answered negatively. We found a majority approving the existence of an army radio station on the left (67%), the moderate left (71%), and in the center (64%). On the right and the moderate right only a minority, though substantial, felt that way (46% and 49% respectively). At the same time, we found that the rate of those who see Galei Tzahal as lacking political neutrality (44%) exceeds the rate of those who say it has no political coloration (34%). Asked in which political direction Galei Tzahal’s broadcasts lean (a question presented only to those who think the station is not neutral), a very large majority (82%) responded that it leans to the left while only 7.5% answered that it tends to the right. This could explain the above-noted gaps between the political camps on the question of whether such a station is necessary.

The Second Lebanon War—ten years later: Now that ten years have passed since the war, we asked: “In retrospect, did Israel, in your opinion, conduct the war well or not well?” The answers show that, in hindsight, the Jewish public’s assessment of how the war was conducted is primarily negative: 60% responded that the war was conducted not so well or not well at all, while only 23% thought the opposite. Here we found unanimity across the political spectrum. At the same time, when it came to the war’s results, we found that a majority of the Jewish public as a whole (54%) sees the quiet that has prevailed on the northern border since the war as evidence that it was a successful war from Israel’s standpoint. Here, though, there were large gaps between political camps: we found a majority perceiving successful results for the Second Lebanon War on the moderate right (62%), the moderate left (59%), in the center (56%), and on the left (50%); only on the “hard” right was it only a minority that held that view (39%).

As for what should be expected if Hizballah tries to attack Israel again, more than two-thirds (68%) of the Jewish public believes the IDF is now prepared to prevent Hizballah from dealing Israel a heavy military blow. Apparently, then, the majority thinks the IDF has internalized the lessons of its failures in waging the Second Lebanon War. Whereas, on the two previous questions on the conduct of the war and its results, the Arab public did not evince a clear pattern of opinions, on the question of the IDF’s preparedness for a future war against Hizballah, here too—as in the Jewish public—a clear majority (62.5%) views the IDF as well prepared for it.

Negotiations Index: 46.5 (Jews: 41.8)

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 July 25-27, 2016, by the Midgam Research Institute. The survey included 600 respondents (500 Jews and 100 Arabs), who constitute a representative national sample of the entire adult population of Israel aged 18 and over. The maximum measurement error for the entire sample is ±4.1% at a confidence level of 95%. Statistical processing was done by Ms. Yasmin Alkalay. http://www.peaceindex.org

  click click Data File
  click click Index

Focus search

  click click Data File
  click click Index

Want to remain updated?
Fill in your details
  © 2010 All rights reserved