Israeli Voice Index

Israel in Times of Corona

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A special survey, the tenth in this series, by the Guttman Center for Public Opinion and Policy Research at the Israel Democracy Institute examined public opinion about government policies relating to the coronavirus outbreak and the economic fallout from the pandemic.

Prof. Tamar Hermann: "The current survey (Israel in Times of Corona # 10) reveals a significant increase in fear: both fear of infection and fear of an economic crisis. This is a result of Israel experiencing the pandemic’s “second wave," and of the fact that the number of unemployed is skyrocketing once again. The result – backed by indisputable data – is a collapse in public confidence in both individuals and organizations entrusted with handling the corona crisis. In particular, trust in the Prime Minister has declined, and trust in the Ministry of Finance, in charge of formulating economic policy, is even lower (the decline here is less dramatic because of the "floor effect" – trust was low from the outset and remains low). The drop in trust in Netanyahu is apparent even among voters for his party – the Likud. Only half the party’s voters express their trust in his handling of the crisis.

The intensity of the public’s emotions (rather than attitudes) with regard to the government was surveyed here for the first time. We found that the range of negative emotions far exceeds the range of positive emotions. The dominant negative emotion is disappointment, followed by anger, and last – alienation. Of the far weaker positive emotions – pride in the government ranks lowest, cited by only 1% of the respondents. A finding which is particularly interesting and of particular concern to the government and the individual at its helm, is that even among Likud voters, and all the more so among other party voters, the majority express negative feelings towards the government.

The yearning for a "Messiah" is therefore natural – and today it has become clear that large segments of the public hang their hopes on former minister and current Knesset member Naftali Bennett. Bennett announces from every possible platform that he holds the key to effectively dealing with the crisis. Support for his position is particularly strong among the religious and the traditional-religious communities."


“These days, are you concerned or not concerned that you or a family member will be infected with the coronavirus?”

• The fear of contracting the Corona virus continues to rise, reaching almost the peak levels of the epidemic beginning in late March. The increase in concern is more pronounced in the Jewish public (from 57% a month ago to 73% today), although the rate of concern in the Arab public remains slightly higher.

• In the Jewish public, women express a greater fear of infection as compared with men (81% vs. 65%).

Concern that you or a family member will be infected with the coronavirus, by ethnicity (%, Jews and Arabs)

“To what extent are you concerned or not concerned about your economic wellbeing in the forseeable future?”

• The last month has also seen a rise in concern with regard to economic wellbeing in the future, although the change is more moderate than with regard to health. Today, 61% of Israelis express concern about their economic future (as compared with in mid-May – 52%, and in mid-June – 54%).

• Concern for one’s future economic wellbeing is still higher among Arab Israelis than among Jews. However, as with regard to health, here too, the rise in concern among the Jewish public was higher this month.

Concern with regard to economic wellbeing in the future, by ethnicity (%) 

• Looking back over time reveals stability in the gap in concerns among various groups which is both interesting and logical. Concern is greatest among those with low-income groups, who are the most vulnerable to economic crisis and at highest risk with regard to their employment. The second highest level of concern is found among individuals with average incomes, among whom– even if their income is not high—a large proportion are civil servants who enjoy tenure in their positions or labor union protection. Over time, concern is lowest among those with above-average incomes (though data from June – which may prove to be an exception – has actually indicated a sharp rise in concern among them and perhaps is a sign of future trends).

Concern for economic wellbeing in the future, (%, among the general public, by income)

“To what extent do you or do you not trust the individuals and the professionals leading the fight against the coronavirus?”

There has been a very sharp decline in the degree of trust of those charged with managing the corona virus, including in the Prime Minister and the Minister of Health, along with government health and economic professionals. However, even after the decline, health professionals enjoy the highest level of trust among individuals in these four categories.

Trust in the individuals and government professionals leading the fight against the coronavirus (%, general public)

Prime Minister Netanyahu

• At the onset of the Corona crisis, the Prime Minister won the trust of the majority of the Israeli public, regarding his management of the Corona crisis (between 54% and 57.5%). In May and June, there was a slight decline in the trust in him (44% – 48%), and in recent days it has crashed – trust in the Prime Minister’s management of the Corona crisis now stands at less than 30%.

• The decline in trust in the Prime Minister in the context of the corona crisis is particularly sharp among the Jewish public (from 51% to 32%). A breakdown of the data by the respondent’s location on the ultra-Orthodox-secular spectrum reveals that the ultra-Orthodox are the only group among whom a majority (60%) express trust in Netanyahu Among the religious, half express confidence in the Prime Minister, (50%), and in the other groups–only a minority (traditional religious – 34.5%; traditional-non-religious - 37%; secular – 17.5%).

• A comparison between the June and the current survey reveals that trust in Netanyahu has fallen among voters of all parties. The steepest decline was observed among voters for the Likud (from 83% to 55%), for United Torah Judaism (from 74% to 49%) and for Yamina—the extreme right-wing party (from 64% to 43%).

Trust in the Prime Minister, in the context of his management of the corona virus, June- July 2020 (%, general public)

Minister of Health, Yuli Edelstein

• Trust in Health Minister Edelstein continues to be low (currently at 27%; 31% upon taking office). Edelstein, the new Minister of Health, seems to be unable to position himself in terms of the public’s trust, and is already losing some of the credit given to him when he took office.

• Among Arab Israelis, there has been no change in the degree of trust in Minister Edelstein (25% in the current survey and 24% in the previous survey). By contrast, among the Jewish public, trust has dropped significantly, from 37.5% to 27.5%.

Government health experts

• For the first time since the onset of the corona crisis, the rate of those who have no confidence at all or only little confidence in the government's health experts (55.5%) is higher than the rate of those who have confidence (40.5%). This constitutes a drop of almost 20% over a single month. 

• A breakdown of the data by the respondent’s location on the ultra-Orthodox-secular spectrum reveals that the sharpest decline in the trust in health experts can be seen among the ultra-Orthodox (from 83% at the beginning of the crisis and 62% a month ago, to 30% today). In fact, today this is the group with the lowest level of trust in health experts. Among secular respondents, 39% expressed trust in government health experts; and among the traditional–religious and the traditional non-religious – 41% and 44% respectively. Only among the religious is there a majority expressing their trust in health experts (56%).

Government finance and economic experts 

• From the beginning of the crisis, the confidence in government economic and finance professionals was relatively low (48%). Over time, there has been a moderate but consistent decline in the public’s degree of trust (measured in June – 39%). Today, trust is even lower: only 23% of Israelis say they have confidence in the government finance and economic professionals. .

“Do you agree or disagree that Naftali Bennett is the most suitable person to lead the country in the fight against COVID-19”?

In view of the Israeli public's dissatisfaction with the government’s management of the corona crisis and the repeated declarations of Yamina party leader Naftali Bennett, that he is capable of successfully tackling this challenge, we asked if he was indeed the right person to manage the crisis. The public is split on this question: Many of the interviewees (40%) responded that Bennett is indeed the person best suited for the task, but almost as many responded that he is not: (38%), with a substantial percentage indicating that they do not know (22%). Among Arab Israelis the level of trust in Bennett is lower than among Jews (21.5% compared to 44%).

Naftali Bennett is best suited to lead the country in the fight against COVID-19 (%)


• Breaking down the data among the Jewish public by the location of the respondent on the ultra-Orthodox-secular spectrum, indicates that in all groups, except for the secular, a considerable proportion, even if not the majority, agree that Bennett is the right person to lead the state in fighting the corona crisis (religious: 62%; traditional religious: 55% Non-religious traditionalists: 49%; ultra-Orthodox: 48%; secular: 32%).

• Analysis of the data by the party for which the respondent voted in the last election shows, not surprisingly, that the greatest support for Bennett's appointment to lead the fight in the Corona crisis can be found among Yamina voters (80%), but support for Bennet is substantial in almost all the other parties as well. 

Agree that Naftali Bennett is best suited to lead the country in the fight against COVID-19 (%, general public)

“Which of the following terms best describe your feelings on the government’s functioning during the COVID-19 crisis?”

In order to try to understand the Israeli public's feelings about the government’s functioning during the Corona crisis, we presented the respondents with six words expressing different emotions– three positive emotions (satisfaction, trust, pride) and three negative emotions (disappointment, anger, alienation). We found that the rate of those expressing negative feelings (74.5%) far exceeded the rate of those expressing positive feelings about the government and its functioning in the crisis (15%). The most common feeling was disappointment, in which almost half of the Israelis chose (45.5%), followed by anger (22%), and in third place alienation (7%). As mentioned, only a minority expressed positive feelings towards the government: satisfaction (7%), trust (7%) and pride (only 1%). There were no significant differences between Jews and Arabs on this issue.

The word that best describes your feelings on the government’s functioning during the COVID-19 crisis? (%, general public)

• A breakdown of the data among the Jewish public by the respondent’s location on the ultra-Orthodox-secular spectrum, indicates that more than among other groups, the ultra-Orthodox chose words expressing positive emotions (29%), although—even among them – disappointment was the most common word (45%) which was cited. Secular Jews constitute the group among whom the choice of words expressing a positive emotion towards the government was lowest – only 10% of them chose such words.

• Analysis of the data by the party for which the responded voted in the last Knesset election reveals that among voters for all major parties, the majority chose negative words to describe their feelings on the government’s functioning during the Corona crisis, though, as expected, the majority is smaller among right-wing voters.

Negative term choice for functioning of the government during the corona crisis (%, general public)

The survey Israel in the Times of Coronavirus # 10 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 (to supplement the representation of groups not sufficiently represented on the network) from July 9 to July 12 2020, 621 men and women were interviewed in Hebrew and 156 in Arabic, constituting a representative national sample of Israel’s adult population ages 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 Rafi Smith Institute under the direction of Rafi Smith. For the full data file, see: Data Israel