A large majority of Israelis think Netanyahu’s efforts to forge ties with Arab Israelis are insincere - 25% of Arab Israelis think they should nevertheless cooperate.
* This month a slight rise was measured in the rate of optimists about the future of democratic governance in Israel, though it was not found in all the sectors and instead was concentrated in the national-religious and religious-traditional publics.
* About half of both the Jewish and Arab publics follow the media coverage of the upcoming elections at least once a day.
* Compared to the past, a low rate of Israelis say that they speak often about political issues with their friends.
* A small majority of the Jewish public are sure about which party they will vote for in the upcoming elections. Those who are surest about whom they will vote for are voters for the Haredi parties, and those who are less sure are voters for the center-left parties. In the Arab public the uncertainty is considerably higher than in the Jewish public.
* More than a third of the public sees high chances that the upcoming elections will be accompanied by severe political violence.
* A majority of those who intend to vote for Gideon Saar’s New Hope Party in the upcoming elections voted for Blue and White in the previous elections.
* In the public as a whole, the highest rate thinks the force the police used against the Haredim for violating the COVID-19 instructions was too weak, while among the Haredim a large majority thinks it was too strong.
* A large majority of the entire public (except the Haredim) says legal and economic measures should be taken against Haredi leaders and institutions that issue directives contravening the state’s instructions for the fight against COVID-19.
* Only about a third of the entire public accords much or moderate trust to Prime Minister Netanyahu for his handling of the COVID-19 issue. The trust in Finance Minister Katz is even lower and comprises only about a fourth of the public.
* The healthcare system gets a high grade from the Jewish public for its running of the vaccination drive against COVID-19. The Arab public gives the health clinics a much lower grade in this regard.
* A majority – both in the Jewish and Arab publics – sees Netanyahu’s efforts to forge ties with the Israeli Arabs is insincere. At the same time, whereas the Jewish public is divided on the question of whether leaders of the Arab public should respond positively to these efforts, a majority of the Arab public opposes developing such ties.
* The Joint List gets low grades for its performance over the past two years from both the Jewish and Arab publics, and in the latter especially in the young age groups.
The National Mood
After about a half year’s moderate decline in optimism about the future of democratic governance, this month saw a rise in the rate of optimists (6%). Most of the increase was measured among the national-religious and religious-traditional publics. Future measurements will indicate whether this is a “real” phenomenon or an anomalous result.
Optimistic about the future of Israeli democracy and about the future of its national security, April 2019─January 2021 (%, entire sample)
Toward the Elections
Interest in the media coverage of the elections – About half (48%) of the Israeli public follows the media coverage of the elections at least once a day. Almost a quarter follow it several times a day (23%) and a similar rate at least once a day (26%). The Arab public shows a similar frequency of following the media coverage of the elections (23% several times a day, 22% at least once a day).
Both in the Arab and Jewish publics the rate of women who follow the media’s coverage of the elections at least once a day is lower than the rate of men (Jewish men 55.5%, Jewish women 42.5%; Arab men 51%, Arab women 38%). Here we did not find large gaps between the three political camps (Jews).
Following the media coverage of the elections a few times or at least once a day (%, Jews, by political camps)
Conversations on political issues – Amid this intensive following of the media, the extent of conversing with others about political issues is, interestingly, very limited. Here too, regarding the frequency of conversations with friends about political issues, no gaps were found between Jews and Arabs. The disparity could stem from an unwillingness to get into political arguments while the country is in its current mood. In this regard, too, centrists come out higher than the other two camps, conversing more often with friends about political issues.
It turns out there is a connection between interest in media coverage of the elections and frequency of conversations on this subject: Among those who follow the media coverage at least once a day, about half (49%) converse with friends about political issues at the same frequency. At the same time, among those who follow the media coverage rarely (less than once a week), a large majority (74.5%) said they likewise converse rarely with their friends about political issues.
Frequency of following political issues in the media by frequency of conversing with friends about political issues (%, entire sample)
Certainty about voting – A majority, though not large, of the Jewish public is already very sure or moderately sure about which party they will vote for (58%). Here the gap between the political camps is large: on the right a solid majority are sure of their electoral preference (69%), while in the center and on the left less than half are sure (center 41%, left 45%). This disparity probably reflects the relative situation of each of the camps regarding the lists that will eventually compete in the elections.
Certainty about electoral preference is lower in the Arab public: only 42% are sure or moderately sure which party they will vote for. In addition, 15% of the Arab interviewees said they would not vote at all, compared to 3% of the Jewish interviewees.
A segmentation by voting in the previous elections reveals that in the Haredi parties the electoral certainty is highest while in the center-left parties and the Joint List it is lowest.
Sure or moderately sure which party they will vote for in the upcoming elections (%, entire sample, by voting in the previous elections)
Gaps in the degree of certainty about which party to vote for also exist between men and women: 64% of the Jewish men are sure or moderately sure which party they will vote for compared to 53% of the Jewish women; 49% of the Arab men are sure or moderately sure which party they will vote for compared to 36% of the Arab women.
Fear of violence in the context of the elections – More than a third (37%) of the public sees a moderately high or very high chance that during the election campaign acts of political violence will occur in Israel that will cause injury or even death, compared to half who see the chances of this as low. Similar rates of the Jewish and Arab publics see a chance of such serious acts of violence during the elections.
Seeing very high or moderately high chances that during the current election campaign acts of political violence will occur in Israel that will cause injury or even death (%, Jews, by political camp)
Intending to vote – This time we asked not only about voting in the previous elections but also about voting intentions in the future, and we found that among those who voted for the Haredi parties a large majority said they would also vote for them in the upcoming elections (Torah Judaism – 87%; Shas – 72%).
Likewise, in these parties the rate of voters who have not yet decided which party to vote for is the smallest. In Likud as well, the rate of those who voted for the party in the previous elections and also intend to vote for it in March 2021 is relatively high (61%), and the rate of those who have not yet decided – relatively low (13%). Slightly over half of voters for the Joint List and for Yisrael Beiteinu said they would also vote for these parties in the upcoming elections. Among past Yamina voters, 37% reported that they would again vote for this party while 22% were yet to decide.
Among voters for the two center-left parties that have split up since the previous elections, Labor-Gesher-Meretz and Blue and White, only about a third said they intend to vote for them in the upcoming elections and the rate of those who are yet to decide is slightly higher.
Intending to vote for the same in the upcoming elections party as in the previous elections and not having decided whom to vote for (%, entire sample, by voting in the previous elections and in the upcoming elections)Labor-Gesher Meretz: The data are for those who intend to vote for the Labor and Meretz parties in the next elections; Blue and White: the data are for those who intend to vote for the Blue and White and Yesh Atid parties in the upcoming elections.
And where do the voters who intend to vote for Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid and Gideon Saar’s New Hope, the two parties competing for the right to be the second largest party, come from? Ninety percent of the Yesh Atid voters voted in the previous elections for Blue and White; 56.5% of those who intend to vote for New Hope also voted for Blue and White in the previous elections, and another 19% voted for Likud.
The COVID-19 Crisis
The police’s use of force against Haredim – The highest rate of the public (41%) thinks the force the police used against Haredim for flouting the state’s instructions on the COVID-19 issue was too weak. About a third says the force was appropriate while 17% see it as having been too strong.
A segmentation of the Jewish public by self-definition of religiosity reveals huge gaps between the groups; especially notable are the large majority of Haredim who think the police used excessive force against them and the majority of the secular who think the force the police used against the Haredim was too weak.
The police’s use of force in Haredi areas against educational institutions that were open despite the directives and against events such as mass weddings was… (%, Jews, by self-definition of religiosity)
Imposing sanctions on Haredi leaders and institutions in response to measures that contravene the government’s directives – We asked: “Should legal and budgetary steps be taken against Haredi leaders and institutions that issue decrees and permits that flout the government’s directives on fighting the COVID-19 pandemic?” Among the public as a whole about three-fourths support such measures, but the gaps between the groups by self-definition on level of religiosity (Jews) are, as expected, very large. Among the Haredim only a minority supports such sanctions, while among the other groups the support for them is much higher; in each of them a large majority says such measures should be taken against Haredi leaders and institutions that issue decrees and permits that violate the government’s injunctions on fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
Support for legal and budgetary measures against Haredi leaders and institutions that issue decrees and permits that flout the government’s directives on fighting the COVID-19 pandemic (%, Jews, by self-definition of level of religiosity)
Trust in decision-makers in the context of the COVID-19 crisis – This time 34% expressed moderate or much trust in Prime Minister Netanyahu in the context of the COVID-19 crisis, a slight decline compared to the measurement two months ago.
Trust in Prime Minister Netanyahu for his handling of the COVID-19 crisis (%, entire sample)
The trust in the prime minister in the Jewish public is much higher than in the Arab public (38% and 17% respectively), while both sectors saw a similar decline in trust compared to the previous measurement.
Again, as expected, the gaps in the degree of trust in the prime minister by voting in the previous elections and voting intentions are large, though it is uncertain whether one can distinguish between trust on this particular issue and trust in him in general. A specific instance is the degree of trust in Netanyahu in his own party, Likud: 27% of those who voted for Likud in the previous elections said they do not put trust in Netanyahu. When looking at the answers to that question compared to those who intend to vote for Likud in the upcoming elections, the rate of those who do not have trust in Netanyahu declines to 12.5%. Presumably, those who voted for Likud in the previous elections and intend to vote for a different party in the upcoming elections are influenced, among other things, by the lack of trust in him for his handling of the COVID-19 crisis.
Accord moderate or much trust to Prime Minister Netanyahu in the context of the COVID-19 crisis (%, entire sample, by voting in the previous elections)
The trust in Finance Minister Yisrael Katz in the context of the COVID-19 crisis is even lower; only 23% expressed moderate or much trust in him. The same holds true in the political camp to which the minister belongs: whereas the prime minister wins trust from a majority (53%) on the right (Jews), the finance minister wins little trust in any of the three political camps: 5% on the left, 17% in the center, and 32.5% on the right.
Grade for the healthcare system on running the vaccination drive – In contrast to the low trust in these particular decision-makers, the healthcare system receives very high grades for its running of the vaccination effort; a third give the healthcare system a grade of excellent and another third, a grade of good. Only 11% assign the healthcare system a grade of not good to poor for its management of the vaccination effort. An interesting though not surprising finding is that the grade the healthcare system receives from the Arab public is much lower.
“What grade would you give the healthcare system for managing the vaccination drive on a scale from 1 = poor and 5 = excellent?” (%, Jews and Arabs)
Netanyahu and the Arab Public
The Sincerity of Netanyahu’s Efforts to Forge Ties
A large majority of both the Jewish and Arab publics (70% and 66% respectively) does not believe that Netanyahu’s recent efforts to forge ties with the Arab public are sincere. A segmentation by voting in the previous elections shows that even among those who voted Likud, about half are dubious about the sincerity of those efforts, and even more feel that way among voters for the other parties.
Cooperation with Netanyahu by Leaders of the Arab Public
Despite the prevailing skepticism about the sincerity of Netanyahu’s attempts to develop ties with the Arab public, the Jewish public is divided on the question of whether the leaders of the Arab public should cooperate with him: 42% are sure or think they should while just about the same number are sure or think they should not. However, a majority of the Arab public (56%) thinks or is sure that this public’s leaders should not cooperate with the prime minister, and only a quarter think or are sure they should. A segmentation of the Jews’ responses to this question by political camp shows that about half of the Right, compared to a minority in the center and on the left, supports such cooperation, apparently because they see it as the beginning of the Arab public’s legitimization as potential partners. In the Arab public the effort wins greater support among the Druze and the Christians than among the Muslims.
The leaders of the Arab public should positively consider cooperating with Netanyahu in light of his recent efforts to forge ties with them (%, Jews and Arabs)
A segmentation of the answers to the two questions by voting in the previous elections reveals that in all the parties, only a minority sees Netanyahu’s efforts to forge ties with the Arab public as sincere. Even among Likud voters less than 40% view them that way. At the same time, only in four parties, all of them on the right (Likud, Shas, Torah Judaism, and Yamina), is there a majority for those who think the leaders of the Arab public should respond positively to the prime minister’s overtures.
Think or are sure that Netanyahu’s efforts to forge ties with the Arab public are sincere and think that leaders of the Arab public should positively consider cooperating with Netanyahu (%, entire sample, by voting in the previous elections)
How Is the Joint List Doing?
The Israeli public gives the Joint List a poor grade for its performance over the past two years; only 7.5% see its performance as good or excellent compared to 53% who regard its performance as not good or poor. The disappointment with the Joint List’s performance over the past two years is especially strong among the young Arab public.
A grade of good or excellent for the Joint List’s performance over the past two years (%, Arabs, by age)
The Israeli Voice Index for January 2021 was prepared by the Viterbi 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 January 25 to 29, 2001, 605 men and women were interviewed in Hebrew and 300 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 3.32%± at a confidence level of 95%. The fieldwork was done by the Midgam Institute. For the full data file see: Data Israel.