Jewish Israelis and the IDF in 2022 - A Special Survey
Ahead of the annual 2022 National Security and Democracy IDI published a special survey to examine the views of Jewish Israeli on a series of issues relating to their relationship with the IDF and the country’s security challenges. The survey found that while there is wide support for opening the ranks to women in combat units and a large plurality would prefer that their children serve in the IDF’s technological units.
The Israel Democracy Institute will hold its annual two-day conference on National Security and Democracy on November 28-29 in cooperation with the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung. The conference will focus on a series of issues pertaining to challenges facing Israeli democracy as the country continues to contend with complex security threats. Among the issues under discussion with senior political leaders, the Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, parliament members, senior public officials (including the National Security Advisor and the Commander of the Southern District in the Israeli Police), ex senior military officers and leading experts will be public trust in the IDF, the current model and proposed reforms for professional career officers, political oversight of the IDF by the Israeli Security Agency, the interactions between the IDF and the media, and the tensions pertaining to the role of religion in the IDF.
Ahead of the conference, IDI’s Center for Security and Democracy and the Viterbi Family Center for Public Opinion and Policy Research conducted a special survey to examine the views of Jewish Israeli on a series of issues relating to their relationship with the IDF and the country’s security challenges. The survey found that there is wide support for opening the ranks to women in combat units (54% support, 35% oppose), as well as a large plurality of Jewish Israelis who would prefer that their children serve in the IDF’s technological units (45% for men, 44% for women) and only a small percent want to see their children serve in the elite combat units (men: 9%, women 3%) or other combat units such as infantry or the armored corps (men: 5%, women 2%). In examining opinions on moral dilemmas facing soldiers, the survey found that 55% of respondents support killing terrorists even after the threat emanating from them has been neutralized, and in the case of rockets being fired at the Israeli population from Gaza 45.5% (27.5% in 2018) support firing on civilian centers to deter terrorists.
The survey was conducted in September 2022 during the campaign for the November 1st election.
Combat Service for Women – 54% of Jewish Israelis think that elite combat unites should be open to women – 35% disagree. When analyzed across the secular-Ultra-Orthodox spectrum – 72% of secular, 19% of national religious and 17% of the ultra-Orthodox agree.
Preferred Service – Jewish Israelis would prefer that their children serve the IDF’s technological units (8200, computers or technological positions): 44%-woman and 45.5%-men; don’t serve at all 22%-women and 11%-men; have no preference – any position the IDF sees fit – 16%-women and 18%-men. As for combat positions – serving in a regular combat unit – 2%-women and 5%-men and in elite combat unit – 3%-women and 9% men.
Who Serves Where – Israelis think that draftees from different walks of life (from the periphery or central locations) have a different shot at serving in the 8200 unit and other elite intelligence, technological or combat units – 60% think that residents from central locations have a better chance, 21% think they have the same chance as residents from central locations –– 16% don’t know and only 3% think that residents from the periphery have a better chance.
Among the young people about to join the IDF who has the higher chances of service in… (%, Jews)
Reliable Reporting? – The 2022 survey portrays an improvement among respondents, compared to 2020 in terms of how reliable they perceive the IDF to be in providing transparent reporting to the Israeli public. 69% think that reporting on combat action is reliable (64% in 2020). Nevertheless only 42% on suicides in the IDF (38% in 2020) and 41% on rates of recruitment among the ultra-Orthodox (32% in 2020) think that the IDF reports are reliable.
The Model of Military Service – Continuing a trend from 2017, 47% of Jewish Israeli believe that the mandatory draft should be discontinued and that the IDF should instead become a voluntary professional military force. 41% disagree and want to continue the current model of service. Segmentation by age shows that more than half support ending mandatory service in most age groups – 51% ages 18-24, 57% ages 25-34, 51% ages 35-54 – only among Jewish Israelis over 55 less than half agree – ages 55-64 (40%) and ages +65 (31.5%).
Views on ending mandatory service and the IDF transitioning into a professional military (%, Jews)
Grading the IDF – Despite the small decline from 2017 – the IDF is viewed favorably with respect to operational aspects. Responders gave the IDF a good or great grade on: combat readiness 71% down from 80% in 2017; and moral conduct during combat 77% - down from 78% in 2017.
However on questions of gender equality and budget management 36% gave the IDF a good or great grade on questions of gender equality in the IDF (50% in 2017); and only 26% on budget management (29% in 2017).
Exemption for Ultra-Orthodox – when asked if they support a law that will exempt Ultra-Orthodox men, who studied in a Yeshiva until age 22 – 49% oppose and 40% support this – 11% don’t know.
Treatment of Soldiers - Only a minority thinks that the IDF provides good or excellent care to an individual in the IDF. But there are considerable differences between the various categories. For example: regarding the treatment of soldiers with mental health problems, only 16% believes that the treatment provided by the IDF to soldiers is good or excellent. 21% believes that the treatment is mediocre, while 41% believes that the military treatment of soldiers with mental health problems is neither good nor bad.
Should soldiers, participate in the following activities, during their mandatory military service:
Religious classes or activities – 74%-allow whoever wants to participate, 11%-forbid participation, 10%-mandatory participation, 5% don’t know
Activities on conversion for soldiers who are not Jewish – 72.5%-allow whoever wants to participate, 10%-forbid participation, 10%-mandatory participation, 5.5% don’t know
Ceremony in which female soldiers sing on stage – 66%-allow whoever wants to participate, 8%-forbid participation, 18%-mandatory participation, 8% don’t know
Tour Jewish sites such as the Kotel and Tomb of the Patriarchs – 47%-allow whoever wants to participate, 3%-forbid participation, 45%-mandatory participation, 6%-don’t know.
Battlefield Ethics – Among Jewish Israelis, 63% (80% in 2018) agree that the IDF must ensure during its planning of military operations that they are not in violation of international law, 71% (63% in 2018) support the death penalty for terrorists who have been convicted of murder; 55% (37% in 2018) support killing terrorists even after they have been neutralized and no longer pose danger and in the case of rockets being fired at the Israeli population from Gaza 45.5% (27.5% in 2018) support firing on civilian centers to deter terrorists.
The annual security survey was prepared by the Center for Security and Democracy and 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 15–19, 2022, with 805 men and women interviewed in Hebrew, constituting a nationally representative sample of the adult population in Israel aged 18 and over. The maximum sampling error was ±3.52% at a confidence level of 95%. Field work was carried out by the Rafi Smith Institute. The full data file can be found at: https://dataisrael.idi.org.il.