On the Eve of the Jewish New Year: How Optimistic Are Israelis and What Are Their Opinions on Iran and the Two-State Solution?
Only 32% of Jewish Israelis support advancing a ‘two-state’ solution as a means for resolving the conflict with the Palestinians. When it comes to thwarting the possibility of a nuclear-armed Iran, half of the public thinks Israel can attack Iran’s nuclear facilities even without American agreement. With regards to the New Year - the Israeli public is divided on what lies ahead: 29% believe that the coming year will be better than last year; 30% think it will be about the same; 21% believe it will be worse; and a relatively large share (20%) said that they don’t know.
New Hebrew Year
Every year, as Rosh Hashana (the Hebrew New Year) approaches, we ask our respondents whether they think that, for the State of Israel, the coming year will be better than its predecessor, about the same, or worse. This year, as last year, we found that the Israeli public is divided on this issue: 29% believe that the coming year will be better than last year; a similar proportion (30%) think it will be about the same; 21% believe it will be worse; and a relatively large share (20%) said that they don’t know. This is the highest proportion of “don’t know” responses recorded since we began asking this question in 2017. This uncertainty about the country’s future may be related to the uncertainty about the results of the Knesset elections due to be held in about six weeks’ time.
In the Arab public, there has been a considerable increase this year in the share of those who responded that the new year will be worse than the year now ending (from 18.5% in 2021 to 38% this year), while the equivalent share of Jewish respondents has shrunk (from 27% to 18%). In addition, there has been a decline in the proportion of those who are optimistic about the coming year in both the Jewish public (from 35.5% in 2021 to 31% this year) and the Arab public (from 25.5% to 20%), alongside the above-mentioned increase in the number of those who say they don’t know.
In general, what do you think the new Hebrew year will be like for the State of Israel? (Jewish sample and Arab sample; %)
Breaking down the data collected over the years by political orientation (Jews) reveals that respondents’ political identification has a noticeable influence on their level of optimism regarding the immediate future of the state. In 2017 and 2018, when the Right was in power under Benjamin Netanyahu, only 9.5% to 18% of those who defined themselves as in the Center or on the Left said that the coming year would be better than its predecessor. In the 2019 survey, conducted between the first round of elections (after which Netanyahu was unable to form a coalition) and the second round of elections, there was a sizeable increase in the share of optimists in these two political camps, to 51% on the Left and 39% in the Center. In the 2020 survey, carried out under the Netanyahu-Gantz power-sharing government, the proportion of optimists collapsed again (Left, 17%; Center, 10.5%), while in the 2021 survey, held around two months before the formation of the Bennett-Lapid government, there was a sharp rise in optimism about the future of the state in the Center (49%) and on the Left (62%). This year, there has again been a sharp fall in the proportion of optimists ahead of the new year, with only around one-fifth of those who identify with the Center and the Left believing that the coming year will be better than the last.
On the Right, the fluctuations in the level of optimism have been far less pronounced, though here too, when Netanyahu failed to form a government (2019) and when the Center-Left were in power (2021), optimism was relatively low, with 31% (in 2019) and 26% (in 2021) responding that the new year would be better than its predecessor. By contrast, in the years in which Netanyahu was prime minister, optimism was higher (between 36% and 41% in 2017, 2018, and 2020). The same appears to hold true when those in this camp believe or hope that Netanyahu will soon be prime minister again (37% in 2022).
Think that the new Hebrew year will be better than last year (Jewish sample, by political orientation; %)
We found that the level of optimism about Israel’s situation in the coming year is not associated with respondents’ age, sex, or income. On the other hand, respondents’ level of general optimism or pessimism regarding the future of democratic rule in Israel and the future of Israel’s national security does explain to a large extent their expectations for the new year, as seen in the figure below.
Think that the new Hebrew year will be much better or a little better than last year, by level of optimism/pessimism about the future of democratic rule in Israel and the future of Israel’s national security (total sample; %)
Two State Solution
36% of Israelis do not think that the next government should try to advance a ‘two-state’ solution to resolve the Palestinian conflict. This is down from 50% in February 2021. There is high disparity between Jewish Israelis (31%) and Arab Israelis (60%) on this question.
The government formed after the elections should try to advance the two-state solution (Jews, Arabs)
The government formed after the elections should try to advance the two-state solution (%, Jews, Arabs, Agree)
If Israel and the Palestinian Authority would come to a peace agreement – would you support such agreement, if it includes dividing parts of Israel into two states – Israel and a Palestinian State (Arabs, Jews, support, 2017-2022)
49% of the public thinks that Israel can attack Iran’s nuclear plants – even without American agreement. 55% of Jewish Israelis and 17% of Arab Israelis agree.
Agree that Israel should carry out a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities even without American agreement? (%, total sample)
Agree that Israel should carry out a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities even without American agreement? (%, Jews, Arabs)
The September 2022 Israeli Voice Index was prepared by the Viterbi Family Center for Public Opinion and Policy Research at the Israel Democracy Institute. The survey was conducted via the internet and by telephone (to include groups that are under-represented on the internet) between September 18–20, 2022, with 604 men and women interviewed in Hebrew and 149 in Arabic, constituting a nationally representative sample of the adult population in Israel aged 18 and over. The maximum sampling error was ±3.59% at a confidence level of 95%. Field work was carried out by Midgam Research and Consulting Ltd. The full data file can be found at: Data Israel.