The Israeli Voice Index for March 2020 found that 76% of Israelis are concerned that they or a family member will contract the coronavirus – up from 34% in February.
* Despite the crisis, a majority of the interviewees (60%) chose to report that their mood at present is very good or moderately good compared to 37% who defined their mood as moderately bad or very bad.
* At the same time, in the public as a whole the majority (56%) is moderately or very pessimistic about the state of Israeli democracy in the foreseeable future, and only a slightly lower rate (52%) thinks that Israel’s democratic governance is currently in grave danger. However, only slightly more than a third (36%) are moderately or very pessimistic about the future of Israel’s national security.
* Despite the widespread feeling that Israeli democracy is in grave danger and that its future is not assured, a small majority (52%) is against organizing protests at this time because of the emergency situation. A little more than a third (36%) say the opposite.
* On a scale of 1 to 10, the average grade currently given by the Israeli public as a whole for solidarity in Israeli society stands at 6.67.
* Seventy-five percent are very afraid or moderately afraid that they or one of their family members will be infected with the coronavirus, and about the same number (73.5%) acknowledge that they fear for their own economic situation.
* A majority of the public (53%) thinks the steps taken by the government to prevent infection with the coronavirus, up to the point the survey was conducted, are appropriate, and another slightly more than one-third (36%) believes they are not strict enough. Only a small minority (7%) sees the steps that have been taken as overly strict.
* About half (51%) consider that the management of the coronavirus crisis should remain in the hands of the Health Ministry, and only 35% think it should be transferred to the Defense Ministry and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).
* A majority (59%) of the public thinks the Israel Security Agency (Shabak) will use the telephone location data it has been given only for the purpose of preventing the spread of the coronavirus.
* Already, before it actually occurred, a majority of the public (55%) estimated that the Blue and White Party would split up if Gantz were to join an emergency/unity government headed by Netanyahu. A minority (28%) thought it would stay together.
* A majority (58%) of the public as a whole preferred a unity government (36% headed by Netanyahu and 22% headed by Gantz).
* As for how well the following officials are doing their jobs, this is the public’s ranking in descending order: Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar Siman Tov – 68%, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – 60%, Health Minister Yaakov Litzman – 40%, Member of Knesset Benny Gantz – 34%, Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein – 31%, Member of Knesset Yair Lapid – 18%.
* As for institutions, the ranking for defining their performance as very good or moderately good, in descending order, is as follows: the hospitals – 83%, the media – 58%, the Finance Ministry – 39%.
The Personal and the National Mood
Despite the medical, economic, and political crises, a majority of the Israeli public as a whole (60%) reports that their mood at present is very good or moderately good. On this issue we found a large gap between Jews and Arabs: among the former public a majority reported a good mood (63%), while among the latter public a minority did so (44.5%). We found further gaps between the different groups on a scale of religiosity; the ultra-Orthodox (haredim) had the highest rate of those whose mood is very good or moderately good. On the right, the rate of those whose mood is very or moderately good is clearly higher than in the center and on the left.
What is your mood at present? (%, Jews)
A segmentation of personal mood by age revealed that in both the Jewish and the Arab public, among the oldest age groups the rate of those whose mood is very bad or moderately bad (65 and older, Jews and Arabs – 43%) is almost double the rate among the young age groups (18-24, Jews – 24%, Arabs – 34%).
On the monthly question about the degree of optimism/pessimism concerning the state of democratic governance in Israel in the foreseeable future, we found a clear decline (9%) in the rate of the optimists. This month the pessimists have a majority both among the Jews (57%) and the Arabs (51%). A segmentation by political camp (Jews) revealed large gaps: whereas on the left and in the center the pessimists are a majority, on the right they are clearly a minority, though a very large one:
|Rate of those who are very or moderately pessimistic about the future of democratic governance in Israel in the foreseeable future||48||71||82|
These findings are consistent with the prevailing agreement (52%) in the Israeli public as a whole that Israeli democracy is now in grave danger. Here we found a large gap between Jews and Arabs: whereas the Jewish public is divided into camps on the extent of agreement with the assertion (right – 37%, center – 67%, left – 84.5%), in the Arab public there is apparently greater agreement on this question than in the past, with about two-thirds (65%) saying democratic governance is in danger (19% do not know).
“Democratic governance in Israel is in grave danger” (%, agree, Jews)
Perhaps paradoxically, the rate of optimists about the future of Israel’s national security in fact increased slightly this month (from 52% to 54%), possibly because there have been far fewer incidents on the border with Gaza. Since the beginning of the measurements in this survey, we have found the largest gap on these two assessments.
Optimistic about the future of Israeli democracy and about the future of national security, April 2019-March 2020 (%, entire public)
On the (Il)Legitimacy of Protest in a Time of Crisis
We asked: “Some claim that this is not the time to protest against the government even if there is fear for the future of Israeli democracy. Others claim that at any time, and especially in an emergency situation like the present one, it is important to be on guard so that the government does not exploit the crisis to do harm to democracy. With which claim do you agree more?” In the public as a whole, we found a small majority (52%) agreeing more with the claim that this is not the time to protest. In the Jewish public 54% agree with that view, and in the Arab public only 39% – indeed, though not a majority, a higher rate than for those who think it is important to be on guard and protest even in a time of crisis (36%). The gap on this question between the political camps (Jews) is very large: on the left a huge majority (80%) considers that protests should be held even in a time of crisis, in the center – a small majority, and on the right – only a tiny minority.
Especially in a time of emergency, it is important be on the guard so that the government does not exploit the crisis to do harm to democracy (%, Jews)
There is a longstanding argument among researchers of society on whether crises undermine or strengthen social solidarity. Amid the current crisis, we wanted to know how the Israeli public assesses the degree of social solidarity in the country. On a scale in which 1 = no solidarity at all and 10 = very great solidarity, the average grade that the public as a whole gave to Israeli society at present was 6.67 – that is, a grade slightly above average, but higher than all the average grades we obtained in previous years from the responses to the same question. Among the Jews the average grade was slightly higher – 6.86, and among the Arabs it was lower – 5.67. We did not find large gaps in estimation of solidarity by political camp (Jews). It is interesting, though not necessarily surprising, that the sense of solidarity among the religious groups (Jews) is higher than among the nonreligious groups:
|Average grade for the current solidarity of Israeli society on a scale of 1 to 10|
The Coronavirus Crisis
Fear of Infection
In this month’s survey we found a sharp rise in the rate of those who fear that they or their family members will be infected with the coronavirus – from 34% in February to 76% in March.
Do you currently fear or not fear that you or members of your family will be infected with the coronavirus? (%, fear, entire public, February and March)
The uptick is especially pronounced – though not only – in the Jewish public, which has surpassed the Arab public regarding the rate of those who fear being infected with the coronavirus:
On this question we also found gaps this month between men, who fear infection less, and women, who fear it more:
Fear about the Economic Future
The Israeli public’s fear concerns not only falling ill with the coronavirus but also the economic crisis that is emerging in the wake of the restrictions the government has imposed and the slowing of economic activity. A large majority of the public greatly fears or moderately fears for its economic wellbeing in the foreseeable future.
To what degree do you fear or not fear for your economic wellbeing in the foreseeable future? (%, entire public)
The fear is very great among all the groups we surveyed. Arabs, however, fear more than Jews (79% vs. 71%), and the left and the center (Jews) fear slightly more than the right (respectively: 78%, 78%, 68.5%). A segmentation by religiosity shows that the rate who fear greatly or moderately is lowest in the haredi group:
|Greatly fear or moderately fear for the economic future (%, Jews)|
An interesting question is whether those who fear infection with the coronavirus also fear for the economic future. A close relationship was found between fear of infection with the coronavirus and fear about the future of the economic situation. An overwhelming majority of those who greatly fear infection with the coronavirus (90.5%) fear for their economic future compared to less than a third (31%) of those who do not fear infection at all who fear for their economic future.
Fear for one’s economic wellbeing in the foreseeable future, distributed by degree of fear about infection with the coronavirus (%, entire public)
The Severity of the Governmental Restrictions
A very large majority of the public thinks that the restrictions the government has imposed to check the spread of the coronavirus are appropriate and even too mild. Only a small minority sees them as too severe. An interesting finding is that in the Arab public, the majority believes the restrictions are not severe enough, whereas among the Jews the majority regards them as fitting. A segmentation by political camp (Jews) did not turn up substantial gaps. In a survey conducted two weeks earlier, however, the rate that saw the restrictions as not severe enough was much lower.
What is your opinion on the restrictions the Israeli government has imposed on the public’s behavior so as to prevent the spread of the coronavirus? (%, Jews and Arabs)
Trust in the Shin Bet (ISA) and in the Governmental Officials to Make Appropriate Use of the Location Data
We asked: “Do you trust or not trust the Shabak and the government officials who will receive the information from the citizens’ cell phones to make use of the data solely to prevent infections in the current crisis?” Whereas among the Jews we found a majority (63%) who trust the Shabak to make use of the collected data only for the prevention of infection, among the Arabs only a minority (38%) had faith in the Shabak and the other governmental officials on this issue.
Trust the Shin Bet (ISA - Israel Security Agency) and the government officials who will receive the citizens’ cell-phone information to make use of the data solely for the prevention of infections in the current crisis (%, Jews and Arabs)
We also found considerable gaps between the political camps (Jews). A majority on the right and in the center trusts the security officials not to make inappropriate use of the collected location data, compared to less than half on the left:
|Trust the Shin Bet and the government officials who will receive the citizens’ cell-phone data to make use of the data solely for the prevention of infection|
Who Should Manage the Coronavirus Crisis?
We asked: “Some claim that the organizations that can and should manage the coronavirus crisis are the Defense Ministry and the IDF (particularly the Home Front Command). Others claim that this would put Israel under a military regime and further damage democracy. With which claim do you agree more?” In the public as a whole, the highest rate (51% vs. 35%) thinks that the management of the crisis should remain in the hands of the Health Ministry. We did not find large gaps on this issue between the political camps (Jews) or between Jews and Arabs.
The Political Crisis
Although, amid the developments, data that were collected last week are already irrelevant, it is interesting to see who is right in some of the debates being waged even now:
Which Government Did the Public Prefer?
The highest rate preferred a unity/emergency government headed by Netanyahu, and in second place a unity government headed by Gantz (a total of 57%). This is a large increase compared to a survey we conducted two weeks earlier (which found 35% support for such a government).
In the wake of the elections, no bloc can now form a government based on a majority of 61 seats in the Knesset. In light of this, which of the following solutions would you now see as the best for Israel? (%, entire public)
Out of all the above possibilities, a majority of Blue and White voters preferred a unity/emergency government (74%).
And how many anticipated that Blue and White would split up were Gantz to join a unity/emergency government headed by Netanyahu?
What, in your opinion, are the chances that Blue and White will remain one party if Gantz decides to join a unity/emergency government with Likud in which Netanyahu would come first in the rotation? (%, entire public)
Grades for the Current Functioning of the Various Leaders and Institutions
The rates for the public’s positive assessments of the functioning of strategic position-holders at present are as follows, in descending order: Health Ministry Director-General Bar Siman Tov (68%), Prime Minister Netanyahu (58%), Health Minister Litzman (40%), Blue and White leader Gantz (34%), former Knesset Speaker Edelstein (31%), and Member of Knesset Lapid (18%).
A grade of “Good” or “Very good” for the current functioning of the various personalities
The Health Ministry director-general is the only one who gets a positive grade from the Arab sector (53%). Two-thirds of the Jews grade him (71%) and the prime minister (67%) positively. Litzman and Edelstein receive a higher grade among the Jews (42% and 34% respectively) than among the Arabs (30% and 13.5% respectively). As for the Blue and White leaders, the picture is the opposite: Jews – Gantz 32%, Lapid 16%; Arabs – Gantz 42%, Lapid 30%.
A division of the Jewish public into political camps and by religious definition shows that the prime minister and the health minister obtain a positive grade only on the right. Whereas Netanyahu, however, receives a positive grade in almost all the groups defined as religious (the lowest support is among the secular – 49%), Litzman gets a positive grade only among the haredim and the religious. Former Knesset Speaker Edelstein is awarded a positive grade only by the haredim and the religious. Blue and White leader Gantz receives a positive grade in the center and on the left, while Member of Knesset Lapid gets a negative one in all the groups defined as religious and in all the political camps, including the center and the left.
We looked into the evaluations of the functioning of three institutions that are currently at the center of activity and of public discussion. The highest assessment went to the hospitals (83%), while the media received a positive but much lower grade (58%). The Finance Ministry, however, won a positive evaluation from only 39% of the respondents.
The hospitals gain the esteem of the majority both among Jews and Arabs, though the rate in the Jewish public is considerably higher than in the Arab public (86% vs. 67%). The media gets a positive grade from all the political camps (51% on the right, 66% on the left, 71% in the center). The Finance Ministry, though, does not get a positive assessment from any of the political camps (right – 45%, center – 32%, left – 18%).
An especially interesting finding concerns the relationship between fear about the interviewees’ economic future and their evaluation of the Finance Ministry. We found that the higher the fear, the lower the assessment of the ministry’s performance.
A positive grade for the Finance Ministry, distributed by degree of fear for the economic situation in the foreseeable future (%, entire public)
The Israeli Voice Index is a project of the Guttman Center for Public Opinion and Policy Research of the Israel Democracy Institute. In the survey, which was conducted on the internet and by telephone (supplements of groups that are not sufficiently represented on the network) from March 24 to March 26, 2020, 611 men and women were interviewed in Hebrew and 149 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 3.7%± at a confidence level of 95%. The fieldwork was done by the Midgam Institute. For the full data file see: https://dataisrael.idi.org.il