Israelis Pessimistic on the Country's Outlook but Hopeful on Peace with UAE
With the Jewish New Year approaching, Israelis are pessimistic on the country's outlook but hopeful on peace with UAE; 41% of Israelis think the upcoming year will be worse than the last; 68% of Israelis think that Israel will be heading to elections when the budget compromise between Likud and Blue and White expires in December.
* On the issues of the future of Israel’s democracy and of its national security, no change occurred this month compared to last month. The demonstrations in the domestic sphere, and the warming of ties with the United Arab Emirates in the foreign domain, neither raised nor lowered the extent of optimism/pessimism on those two issues. As in the past, a minority is optimistic about the future of democratic governance and a majority is optimistic about national security.
* The low optimism about the future of democratic governance is probably underpinned, at least to a certain extent, by the feeling that the days of the current government are numbered. More than two-thirds anticipate a fourth round of elections after the end of the period specified by the compromise that was recently reached between Likud and Blue and White.
* Only few consider that both sides made similar concessions so as to reach this compromise. In the center and on the left, the assessment is that Benny Gantz made more concessions; on the right, that Netanyahu conceded more.
* About a tenth of the sample answered that in recent months they participated in one or more protest activities against the government’s policy and against Prime Minister Netanyahu. This rate is similar among the Jewish and Arab interviewees.
* The rate of Jewish participants in the protest is highest among those who identified themselves as left-wing and lowest among those who identified themselves as right-wing, with the center in between. From an age standpoint, to go by this sample, this is a protest that is propelled by the youngest and the oldest age groups, with a much lower presence for the intermediate ages.
* Who is responsible for the clashes during the demonstrations? In the Jewish sample the tendency is to pin more responsibility on the demonstrators, while in the Arab sample the highest rate assigns most of the responsibility to the police. A segmentation by political camps shows that the left puts more responsibility on the police, the right assigns more to the demonstrators, while the center, more than the other two camps, tends to put the blame on both sides equally.
* A majority of interviewees think the warming of ties with the United Arab Emirates will be of benefit to Israel in the economic, political-diplomatic, tourism and vacationing, as well as security-military domains, though the rate of those who anticipate benefit in the last domain is the lowest among the four.
* A small majority of the entire public believes that the warming of ties with the UAE will contribute to promoting negotiations with the Palestinians.
* The feeling of the majority is that, as the coming year approaches, the national mood is pessimistic. However, the rate of Haredim who see public optimism is three times higher than the rate among the secular!
* Those who are optimistic themselves about the new year tend also to view the public mood that way – and the opposite: a majority of those who report a pessimistic personal mood regarding the future see the public mood the same way; that is, there is a perceptual mirror image of the personal and the public.
* The rate of those who think the next year will be less good than the previous one is much higher than in the past, and higher than the rate who think the coming year will be better than the one that is now ending or good to the same extent.
The National Mood
Despite the many demonstrations against the government and against Netanyahu on the domestic-national level, and despite the warming of ties with the UAE on the level of Israel’s foreign relations, the last month saw almost no changes in the Israeli public’s degree of optimism compared to the previous month. The demonstrations did not change the distribution of opinions about the domestic situation: a minority is optimistic about the future of democratic governance, and the warming of ties with the UAE did not change the public’s assessment of the security situation, with a small majority reporting optimism on that issue.
Optimistic about the future of Israeli democracy and about the future of national security, April 2019-August 2020 (%, entire sample)
The Political System
Are Elections Imminent?
The lack of optimism about the future of democracy may be at least partially attributable to the feeling that the current government’s days are numbered. We asked: “What, in your opinion, are the chances that at the end of the four months specified in the compromise agreement between Likud and Blue and White, Israel will go to elections?” More than two-thirds of the interviewees answered that the chances of it are high.
The chances that after the four months specified in the agreement between Likud and Blue and White, Israel will go to elections (%, entire sample)
A distribution by political camp (Jews) reveals that on the left the rate of those who anticipate elections at the end of the compromise period is the highest (88%) while on the right it is the lowest, though still a majority (68%). The center is in the middle (79%).
Who Conceded More?
In the entire sample, the rate of those who believe that Benny Gantz made greater concessions to reach a compromise—which, as we showed earlier, is perceived as ineffective in preventing imminent elections—is double the rate of those who think Netanyahu made more concessions (42% vs. 22%). A segmentation of the responses by voting in the most recent Knesset elections is extremely interesting: voters for all the parties think the leader of “their” side made more concessions whether they see that as positive or negative, something we cannot know from the responses to the question we asked. Yamina voters are an exception; among them the highest rate chose the answer that both sides made concessions to the same extent.
Who, in your opinion, made greater concessions as part of the compromise between Likud and Blue and White that prevented, for the time being, going to elections? (%, entire sample, by voting in the elections)
About a tenth of the interviewees said they had participated in recent months in one or more of the protest activities against the government’s policy and/or Prime Minister Netanyahu. A similar rate gave that response in the Jewish and Arab samples. A segmentation of the respondents by political camp reveals considerable though foreseeable disparities.
Participated in recent months in one or more of the protest activities against the government’s policy and/or against Prime Minister Netanyahu (%, Jews, by political camp)
An analysis of the responses by age reveals a more interesting picture, though characteristic of this type of protest: it turns out that the current wave of protest is of very young people and particularly of quite old people, while the intermediate ages are less present.
Participated in recent months in one or more of the protest activities against the government’s policy and/or against Prime Minister Netanyahu (%, entire sample, by age)
Who Is More Responsible for the Clashes That Are Developing between the Demonstrators and the Police?
The Israeli public is divided in its opinions about who is responsible for the clashes between the demonstrators and the police. About a third see the demonstrators as more responsible for these altercations, a similar rate (31%) think the police are responsible, and about a fourth said both sides were equally responsible.
In the Jewish sample the highest rate pin the responsibility for the clashes during the demonstrations more on the demonstrators; in the Arab sample, on the police.
Who, in your opinion, is more responsible for the clashes that are developing recently between the police and the demonstrators? (%, Jews and Arabs)
|The police are more responsible||28.5||42|
|The demonstrators are more responsible||38||13|
|Both sides to the same extent||25||23|
A segmentation by political camp (Jews) reveals again, as expected, that the left-wing camp assigns most of the responsibility for the clashes to the police, and the right-wing camp – to the demonstrators. The center is less clear-cut in its stance and splits the main responsibility between the police and the two sides to an equal extent.
Who is more responsible for the clashes that are developing between the demonstrators and the police? (%, Jews, by political camp)
The Warming of Ties with the United Arab Emirates
We wanted to know what benefit could – in the eyes of the public – result from the warming of ties with the UAE. In all four domains we looked into, the majority sees benefit accruing, but the most interesting finding is that the rate of those who think the warming of ties will yield a security-military benefit is the lowest! This finding could explain why this month we did not find a rise in optimism about the future of Israel’s national security despite this dramatic development in Israel’s relations with a key Arab state.
Assessing that the warming of ties with the United Arab Emirates will bring benefit to Israel (%, entire sample)
On this question we did not find large gaps between the political camps, except for the security-military domain: whereas on the right and in the center a majority (59% and 52%, respectively) believes the warming of ties will be of benefit to Israel, on the left only a minority thinks so (40%).
The Warming of Ties and Talks with the Palestinians
We asked: “Will the agreement with the UAE contribute to or detract from promoting negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority?” In the Jewish sample we found a majority that thinks the warming of ties with the UAE will contribute to promoting negotiations with the Palestinians. In the Arab public there is no clear position on the issue, with somewhat of an advantage for those who consider that the warming of ties will detract from promoting negotiations with the Palestinians.
Will the agreement with the UAE contribute to or detract from promoting negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority? (%, Jews and Arabs)
A segmentation of the Jewish sample by political camps reveals that, on the right and in the center, the majority thinks the warming of ties with the UAE will contribute to promoting negotiations with the Palestinians, while the left is divided on the issue.
Will the agreement with the UAE contribute to or detract from promoting negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority? (%, Jews)
|Think or are sure it will contribute||36||57||58.5|
|Think or are sure it will detract||37||20||20|
As the New Year Approaches
The National Mood
Beyond the two specific issues we discussed at the beginning of the column, on the general level, as the new year approaches, two-thirds of the interviewees describe the public mood as gloomy in different regards. Only about a fourth describe it as optimistic. In the past, the rate of those assessing the national mood as positive as the new year approached was considerably higher. On this issue we did not find a significant disparity between Jews and Arabs.
With the beginning of the new year, how would you define the “national mood” at present? (%, entire sample)
A segmentation by religiosity revealed that while, indeed, in all the groups the majority assesses the public mood as the new year approaches as pessimistic, the rate of those who do see optimism here is highest among the Haredim and lowest among the secular, probably reflecting the mood within each of these groups:
|% assessing the national mood as the new year approaches as optimistic|
However, the personal mood is much more positive than the view of the public mood: more than half of the interviewees (52%) testified about themselves that they were optimistic and a lower rate (44%) said they were pessimistic with the new year approaching. Unlike the previous question, on this one a disparity emerged between Jews and Arabs: whereas among the Jews optimists are a majority (54%), among the Arabs the rate of pessimists is higher than the rate of optimists (49% vs. 38%).
A segmentation of the Jews by location on the Haredi-secular spectrum reveals that in most of the groups there is a majority of optimists, except for the secular group where the majority is pessimistic.
Very optimistic or moderately optimistic about personal mood (%, Jews, by political camp)
A cross-check between the two questions – on assessing the national mood and reporting on personal mood – reveals a close connection between them. For the most part, those who are optimistic about themselves tend to assess the public mood as optimistic, and conversely, those who attest to a pessimistic personal mood tend to say the same about the public mood. Thus, among those who define themselves as very optimistic, the majority (70%) also sees the national mood that way. However, among those who define their personal mood as very pessimistic, an overwhelming majority (82%) thinks the same about the public mood. The only anomalous group in this regard consists of those who defined themselves as moderately optimistic but mostly think that the public as a whole is pessimistic; that is, they see the public differently from how they see themselves.
Optimistic/pessimistic about the public mood (%, Jews, by personal mood)
And Looking toward the New Year
The pessimistic view of the future also emerges from a direct question about the year that is about to begin. Apparently under the combined influence of the worsening coronavirus crisis, whose end is not on the horizon, and the ongoing political crisis, only a minority (27%) considers that from the standpoint of the country, the coming year, 5781 (2020-2021), will be better than the one that is ending, while the highest rate (40%) expects that the new year will be less good than the previous one.
How, in your opinion, in general, will the new year be from the standpoint of the country (%, entire sample)
On the right (Jewish sample), the rate of those who anticipate that the coming year will be better than the previous one (36%) is higher than the rate in the center and on the left (17% and 10.5%, respectively).
This year the rate of those who believe the coming year will be less good than the previous one (41%) is substantially higher than the rates that were found in previous measurements over the past decade.
The coming year will be less good than the previous one (%, entire sample)
The Israeli Voice Index for August 2020 was prepared by 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 August 31 to September 2, 2020, 605 men and women were interviewed in Hebrew and 145 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 Data Israel.