Israeli Democracy Index 2020: 75% of Jewish Israelis think that crucial decisions on matters of peace and security should entail a Jewish majority; Almost 60% of Jews believe that most Arab citizens of Israel want to integrate into Israeli society
Yohanan Plesner, President of the Israel Democracy Institute, and Prof. Tamar Hermann, Director of IDI's Viterbi Family Center for Public Opinion and Policy Research, today (Monday) presented President Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin with the Israeli Democracy Index for 2020. The Democracy Index, which is published annually for the past 18 years, reveals a complex picture regarding the level of public trust in key institutions; confidence in the country's civil service and in the overall strength and resilience of Israeli democracy.
Prof. Tamar Hermann, Director of the Viterbi Family Center for Public Opinion and Policy Research: "If at the beginning of the crisis the findings indicated a sense of a shared fate and improved relations, in recent months these feelings have eroded. This reflects the depth of the challenge facing the State of Israel with regard to the tension between its Jewish and democratic identities."
In light of the enormous impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Israeli society, the survey was conducted in June and again in October, to re-examine some of the survey questions and identify trends over time. On these questions, findings from both June and October are presented.
Comparison between June and October data:
Is the government in Israel democratic towards Arab citizens as well?
On this question, the gap between Jews and Arabs is particularly large. As in previous indices, the findings this year (October) indicated that a majority of Jewish respondents (60%) believe that the government is democratic also toward Israel's Arab citizens, while a majority of Arab respondents (58%) believe that it is not.
Impact of COVID-19 on Jewish-Arab relations
In June, it seemed that the pandemic might be a positive force in bridging the gaps between Jews and Arabs, as 49% of Jews and 55% of Arabs responded that it had improved relations between the two groups. However, a less optimistic picture emerged in October, when only 28% of Jews and 25% of Arabs cited improved relations. The percentage of those responding “don’t know,” was significantly higher among Jews than among Arabs in both June and October.
"How has the coronavirus pandemic affected relations between Jews and Arabs in Israel"? (Jewish and Arab samples, %)
Crucial decisions? Only with a Jewish majority.
As in previous years, and regardless of the notion that relations have improved in the wake of the pandemic, 75% of Jews in Israel believe that crucial decisions relating to matters of peace and security should be made by a Jewish majority.. A breakdown of the Jewish sample by political orientation reveals considerable differences. A large majority on the Right (87%) and in the Center (71%) support this view, compared with a minority of those on the Left (39%).
Decisions crucial to the state on issues of peace and security should be made by a Jewish majority, 2010–2020 (strongly agree or somewhat agree, Jewish sample, %)
Integration into Israeli society
A large majority (81%) of Arabs and a small majority (57%) of Jews believe that most Arab citizens of Israel want to be an integral part of Israeli society. Breaking down the Jewish sample by political orientation reveals that slightly less than half (48%) of those identifying themselves as on the Right agree with this statement, compared with a large majority on the Left (83%) and in the Center (65%).
“Most Arab citizens of Israel want to integrate into Israeli society and be part of it.” (Jewish sample, %)
A large majority (77%) of Arabs and slightly more than half (54%) of Jews reject the idea that Arabs and Jews in Israel should live in separate communities in order to preserve their respective national identities. However, among Jews, opinions on this issue differ significantly by the respondent’s self-defined religiosity: 82% of ultra-Orthodox Jews (Haredim) support living apart, as do 62% of National-Religious respondents; 48% of traditional religious respondents; and 42% of traditional non-religious respondents. Just 25% of secular respondents support living apart.
With regard to working together, only a minority of Jews (41%) are willing to work in an Arab locale, compared with an overwhelming majority of Arabs (93%) who are willing to take a job in a Jewish locale. Similarly, two-thirds of Jewish respondents (67%) said they are willing to work under an Arab supervisor, while a huge majority of Arab respondents (92%) are willing to work for a Jewish supervisor.
In the Jewish sample, We, we found that of those who support living apart, only half (50%) are willing to take a job in an Arab community, whereas among those who oppose living apart, the corresponding figure is 81%. In other words, there is a segment of the Jewish public in Israel that is interested in integration with the Arab public, and another segment that seeks separation.
When it comes to medical treatment, a large majority of both groups of respondents—96% of the Arab sample and 71% of the Jewish sample—do not care whether they are treated by a Jewish or Arab doctor.
Arab representation in government and the Civil Service
Only a minority of Jewish respondents (36%) believe that bringing Arab parties into the governing coalition would help protect the rights and interests of the Arab population, compared with a majority (70%) of Arab respondents.
A majority of Jews (59%) and more than two-thirds of Arabs (67%) believe that appointing an Arab minister whose portfolio would be the safeguarding of the rights and interests of the Arab population, would promote this cause.
In the same context, only just over one-third of Jewish respondents (38%) believe that enacting legislation mandating Arab representation at all levels of civil service and in all state institutions in proportion to their percentage of the country’s population, would help protect the rights and interests of Arabs in Israel, compared with a large majority of Arab respondents (83%) who believe that legislation of this kind would promote the achievement of this goal.
Around half the Arab respondents (52%) believe that the main reason for low representation of Arabs in high-ranking positions in Israel’s civil service, is the Jewish majority's desire to keep Arabs out of positions of power. Only a minority of the Jewish respondents (31%) agree with this claim.
Reasons for low representation of Arabs in Israel’s civil service (Jewish and Arab samples, %)
The 2020 Israel Democracy Index is based on a survey conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute's Viterbi Family Center for Public Opinion and Policy Research. In the survey, which was conducted on the internet and by telephone (to supplement the representation of groups that are not sufficiently represented on the network) from June 5-17, 2020 & October 27-29, 2020.1000 men and women were interviewed in Hebrew and 180 in Arabic, constituting a representative national sample of the entire adult population of Israel aged 18 and older. The maximum sampling error for the entire sample was 2.9%± at a confidence level of 95%. The fieldwork was conducted for the June survey by the Midgam Institute (Jews) and the Stat-net Institute (Arabs) and for the October survey by the Midgam Institute. For the full data file see: Data Israel