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The Peace Index:
Date Published: 02/05/2018
Survey dates: 24/04/2018 - 25/04/2018

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Prof. Ephraim Yaar and Prof. Tamar Hermann

At the center of the events in April was Israel’s 70th Independence Day. Naturally, this time we devoted many of the survey questions to the events and issues connected to this day. We also looked into the public’s positions on the clashes at the Gaza border and on the possibility of a war with Iran.
A wonderful country: On the whole, the answers to the questions we presented show that the majority of the Jewish public is satisfied with the state of the country in its 70th year of independence. Some 91% are proud to be Israeli, 87% are satisfied with Israel’s balance of achievements and failures, 76% would keep living in Israel even if they had the choice to live in another country, and 75% are optimistic about Israel’s future.

On the questions about Israel’s achievements, pride in Israeliness, and wanting to remain in the country, we did not find significant differences between the right, the center, and the left, nor between the different religious groups. We did find disparities on the question about optimism or pessimism regarding the country’s future: while on the right there is a clear majority (86%) of optimists, in the center this majority is considerably smaller (68.5%), and on the left there is a minority of optimists, albeit a large one (46%).
In the Israeli-Arab public the picture is different. The majority (77%) indeed said they would stay in the country even if they could move elsewhere. However, a small majority (51%) said they are not satisfied with the balance of the country’s achievements and failures, about the same rate said they are pessimistic when it comes to Israel’s future, and only 33% said they are proud to be Israeli.
But it used to be even better: One weak point we found in the Jewish public’s outlook involves the citizens’ degree of concern about the country. A majority (60%) holds the view that the citizens used to care more about the country. About one-fourth (26%) see no difference in this regard between the situation today and in the past. In other words, there is a certain widespread apprehension in the Jewish public that the citizens of today are not “patriots” in the way they once were. On this issue, too, there were no substantial differences between right, center, and left.
In the Arab public the higher rate (50%) thinks that what has been is what prevails today; in other words, that there is no change in the Israeli public’s extent of concern about the country.
Watching the torch-lighting ceremony: As in the past, a clear majority of the Jewish public (65%) say that they watched the broadcast of the ceremony. Whereas segmentation by political camps did not turn up substantial differences, segmentation by religiosity revealed that whereas among the secular, traditional, and religious the majority watched the broadcast, only a minority of haredi interviewees said they did so. This minority (44%), however, is surprisingly large considering both the fact that many haredi homes do not have a television and, even more, the fact that this population takes a non-Zionist to anti-Zionist ideological position.
As for the Arab interviewees, a clear majority (77%) said they did not watch the ceremony.
The nature of the ceremony: Among the Jewish interviewees who watched, about three-fourths considered the program of this year’s ceremony to be appropriate. Here there is a large gap between the right, where the large majority thinks the format was appropriate, the center, where about half think so, and the left - where only a small minority approves of this year’s format.
At the same time, when asked which format is preferable - the one used in the past or the one used this year- a small majority (50%) preferred the previous format while 34%, almost all of them on the right, preferred this year’s format.
The speeches by Miriam Peretz and David Grossman: In her speech at the Israel Prize ceremony, Peretz said, among other things: “In Israel there is room for everyone. If one piece is missing from the puzzle, the picture is not complete... To create this mosaic successfully we must respect each other in conversation, we must create a restrained, tolerant way of talking with each other so that an opinion can be expressed without fear or threats.” To the question of whether the interviewee agreed or disagreed with this far- reaching statement, a large majority of both the Jewish and Arab interviewees replied positively (85%). However, only a small minority of the Jews (28%) agreed with writer David Grossman’s assertion that: “The way to solve the big entanglement of Israeli-Palestinian relations can be summed up very briefly: if the Palestinians don’t have a home, the Israelis won’t have one either.” Here political placement played a key role: 10% of those defining themselves as right-wing agreed with Grossman’s words, 45% of the center, and 59% of the left. Among the Arab interviewees about three-fourths expressed identification with his words (it should be noted that, so as not to cause a deviation in the responses, the question did not mention the fact that Grossman spoke at the alternative ceremony for bereaved Jewish and Palestinian parents).
The transfer of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem: A majority of the Jewish public (68%) views the planned transfer of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, and the announcement by other countries that they will follow suit, as a positive process in terms of Israel’s interests, even though the Palestinians have made clear that they consider it a severe blow. Among the Arab interviewees the highest rate sees this move is something that is not positive (47%).
The clashes at the Gaza border: When asked whether the IDF’s open-fire policy during the recent border clashes is appropriate or inappropriate, a sweeping majority of the Jewish interviewees (83%) responded that the policy is appropriate. Only among Meretz voters are those viewing the policy as appropriate less than a majority (see the diagram).
Among the Arab interviewees, there is a consensus against IDF’s open-fire policy (90%).
In a similar vein, although with a smaller majority (67%), the Jewish public as a whole disagrees with the claim that because Gaza’s economic situation has seriously deteriorated over the past few years, Israel should alleviate the residents’ plight and show greater flexibility regarding the exit and entry of goods to Gaza. On the left, as expected, a majority of 65% do agree with this claim.
A clear majority of the Arab public (84%) also backs the claim that Israel should act to improve the Gaza residents’ welfare.
Israel’s strategic situation: In his speech at the torch-lighting ceremony on Independence Day eve, the prime minister said that “we are stronger than ever.”A question revealed that a majority of the Jewish public (59%) agrees. A segmentation by political camps turned up very large gaps: on the right about three-fourths concur with Netanyahu’s assessment, compared to about half of those who located themselves in the center and less than a quarter on the left. The interviewees in the Arab sample were divided on this question.
The likelihood of a war with Iran: The Jewish public is quite evenly split between those who see a high chance of a direct military conflict between Israel and Iran in the foreseeable future (43%) and those with the opposite perception (45%). The right assesses the chances of a conflict in the foreseeable future as considerably lower than do those defining themselves as on the left.
The majority (60%) of the Arab interviewees see the chances of such a conflict in the near term as low.
Israel’s chances of winning in case of a war with Iran: On this issue the Israeli Jewish public shows a high level of self-confidence: a clear majority (71%) is sure or thinks that the chances of an Israeli victory are high. Here again there are disparities between right and left: while on the right the large majority is convinced that Israel is capable of winning, on the left only about half think so.
On this question the rate of those in the Arab sample who did not give an answer was too high to allow an analysis of the distribution of responses.
The Israeli public’s resilience: Some 61.5% of the Jewish interviewees view the Israeli public as strong enough to cope with the price in casualties and damage that a war with Iran could exact. A segmentation by political camps shows that in all of them, the rate who think the Israeli public can cope with the price of the conflict in terms of casualties is greater than the rate who think the opposite, though the right perceives greater public resilience in this regard than does the left.
As for the Arab interviewees, only 18% consider that the Israeli public can cope with the price of a conflict with Iran.
Negotiation Index: 43.3 (Jews 45.7)
Diagram of the month: The recent weeks have seen repeated clashes between IDF forces and Palestinian protesters at the Gaza border. In these clashes many Palestinians have been killed and wounded. In your opinion, is the IDF’s policy on opening fire there appropriate or inappropriate? (% who say the policy is appropriate, Jews, according to voting in the latest Knesset elections)
Diagram of the month: The recent weeks have seen repeated clashes between IDF forces and Palestinian protesters at the Gaza border. In these clashes many Palestinians have been killed and wounded. In your opinion, is the IDF’s policy on opening fire there appropriate or inappropriate? (% who say the policy is appropriate, Jews, according to voting in the latest Knesset elections)

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 and internet on April 24-25, 2018, by the Midgam Research Institute. The survey included 600 respondents, who constitute a representative national sample of the 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 analyses were done by Ms. Yasmin Alkalay. http://www.peaceindex.org

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