A majority of the Jewish public think the government's focus on the judicial overhaul had a critical impact on the timing of Hamas' Oct. 7th attack. Support for negotiations for the release of the hostages in Gaza has risen, but most think the fighting should not stop.
The survey was conducted by the Viterbi Family Center for Public Opinion and Policy Research at the Israel Democracy Institute. Data collection was carried out between November 5–6, 2023, with 502 men and women interviewed via the internet and by telephone in Hebrew and 104 in Arabic. The maximum sampling error was ±4.04% at a confidence level of 95%. Field work was carried out by the Lazar Research Institute headed by Dr. Menachem Lazar.
Topics covered in this report:
- The impact of the government’s focus on its judicial reforms on the timing of Hamas’s attack and on Israel’s preparedness
- The timing of negotiations with Hamas over the release of the hostages
- Rating the performance of the individuals and groups leading the war
- The functioning of civil society organizations during the war
- Making ZAKA Search and Rescue a public service
- The future of the Gaza Strip after the war
- Civilian resilience
- Optimism about the future
- Feeling part of the State of Israel
- Preferring to remain in Israel
One of the main questions in Israeli public discourse today concerns the factors that contributed to the attack by Hamas on October 7. In previous surveys, we asked about the level of preparedness of various bodies and about the influence of the deep disagreements in Israeli society over the months preceding the attack. This time, we wanted to know about the extent to which the government’s focus since January 2023 on advancing its judicial reforms affected the timing of the attack and Israel’s preparedness for such an event. We found that a majority of the public think that this focus affected (very much or quite a lot) both the timing of the attack and Israel’s preparedness for it (61% in both cases).
Breaking down responses in the Jewish sample by political orientation reveals that across the Jewish public, the government’s focus on its judicial reforms is considered to have had a crucial impact. Even among those who define themselves as on the Right, more that half take this view—namely, that the government bears some responsibility for the timing of the attack and for the lack of preparedness. This view is even more popular in the Center and on the Left.
Think that the government’s focus on advancing its judicial reforms affected very much or quite a lot the timing chosen by Hamas to carry out its attack on October 7 and Israel’s preparedness for such an attack (Jewish sample, by political orientation; %)
 War in Gaza Survey 1, War in Gaza Survey 2, Israeli Voice Survey October 2023
As in previous surveys, the most common response this time was again that Israel should negotiate immediately with Hamas over the release of the hostages in Gaza, but should not halt the fighting. In fact, support for this option has risen by 10 percentage points since we first asked this question, and by 6 percentage points since the second survey. There has also been a small increase of around 3.5 percentage points, relative to the first two times we asked this question, in the minority view that negotiations should begin immediately even if this means halting the fighting. By contrast, there has been a fall of 9 percentage points in the share of respondents who think that negotiations with Hamas should only be held when the fighting is over (and of 4 percentage points relative to the previous survey). Across the three surveys, there has been almost no change in support for the view that Israel should not negotiate at all with Hamas for the release of the hostages.
Should the State of Israel conduct negotiations with Hamas for the release of the kidnapped Israelis in return for the release of Hamas prisoners from Israeli prisons? (total sample; %)
In the Jewish sample, the most common response remains that Israel should negotiate with Hamas but should continue fighting. In the Arab sample, the majority view once again is that negotiations should be held even if it means halting the fighting, and the size of this majority has grown since the previous survey.
Should the State of Israel conduct negotiations with Hamas for the release of the kidnapped Israelis in return for the release of Hamas prisoners from Israeli prisons? (Jewish sample and Arab sample; %)
A month after the beginning of the war, we repeated the question we asked at the end of the first week: “What grade would you give each of the following for their functioning during the war until now?” For each of the groups and individuals we asked about, the assessments given by the Jewish respondents was higher than that from their Arab counterparts. In the Jewish sample, the grade awarded the IDF combat forces remained unchanged across the two surveys, and was the highest in both. Close behind was ZAKA Search and Rescue, which we asked about for the first time here. The grades for the IDF spokesperson and for the senior command of the IDF have risen considerably compared to the first survey.
On the other hand, the score for the functioning of the prime minister has remained extremely low and almost unchanged. Breaking down this assessment by vote at the last elections reveals that the prime minister’s rating has improved slightly among coalition party voters (from 45% to 49%), but it has remained unchanged and exceedingly low among opposition party voters (4%).
Rate as good or excellent* the functioning of the following individuals/organizations since the start of the war (Jewish sample and Arab sample; %)
As noted, the public’s assessment of the functioning of the ZAKA organization following the October 7 attack is extremely positive. We asked: “As a non-profit organization, a large part of the funding for ZAKA Search and Rescue comes from donations. Given the major national role played by the organization following the events of October 7, do you think that ZAKA should be adopted as a public service and thus be fully funded and managed by the state?” A very large majority of respondents are in favor of such a step (total sample, 85%; Jewish sample, 86%; Arab sample, 76%). As with the ratings for ZAKA’s functioning, there is full national consensus on this issue as well: Based on recognition of the critical role played by the organization, Israelis think it should become a public service with full state funding, so that it will not have to fundraise from donors in Israel and abroad.
Given the major national role played by the organization following the events of October 7, think that ZAKA should be adopted as a public service and thus be fully funded and managed by the state (Jewish sample, by religiosity; %)
Immediately after the attack of October 7, civil society organizations rushed to plug the gaps left by the government and the state, by providing necessary equipment to soldiers, assisting evacuees, clearing away rubble and destruction, replacing missing manpower in agriculture, and more. These included both Israel’s established nonprofits and new civic organizations, or organizations that rapidly shifted the focus of their activities, such as Brothers in Arms. We wished to know how the public rated the functioning of the established organizations compared with that of these newcomers. As the figure below shows, public opinion is firmly tilted toward the new civic organizations, and as the respective shares of “don’t know” responses would seem to indicate, public awareness of them (or at least of their contribution and functioning at the current time) is higher than that of the established organizations (“don’t know” responses: established nonprofits, 24%; new organizations, 9%). The average grade given to the established nonprofits, on a scale of 1 = very poor to 5 = excellent (not including “don’t know” responses) is 4.13, compared to 4.53 for the new civic organizations.
On a scale from 1 = very poor to 5 = excellent, what grade would you give for their functioning since the outbreak of the war to the established nonprofits that also operate in normal times (such as ERAN, Yad Sarah, and Latet) and to the new civic organizations? (total sample; %)
In this survey, we measured our respondents’ assessment of the resilience of the Israeli public for the second time since the start of the war, and found that it remains high and stable. In both surveys (this and the previous one), the rating given by Jewish respondents to Israeli public resilience, in light of the challenges currently facing the country, was much higher than that awarded by Arab respondents, though on both occasions, the majority view in the Arab sample was that resilience is high. Among both samples, no significant change was found between the two surveys.
Rate the resilience of the Israeli public during the war until now as high (Jewish sample and Arab sample; %)
Among Jewish respondents, there are only small differences on this issue between the different political camps, though it can be seen that resilience is rated less highly on the Left than in the Center and on the Right (respectively, 81%, 94%, and 91%).
Once again, we asked our respondents whether they are optimistic or pessimistic about the future of the State of Israel. In June this year, only one-half of Jewish respondents reported feeling optimistic about the future of the state, but this share has now grown to 72%. By contrast, we saw a small increase in optimism among Arab respondents immediately after the war began, but as the war has progressed Arab optimism has gradually declined, to the point where only a quarter now say they are optimistic. This is the lowest share recorded since we began measuring optimism in 2009.
Optimistic about the future of the State of Israel (Jewish sample and Arab sample; %)
As before, we found large differences in this survey between the different political camps in the Jewish sample, with optimists about the future of the state constituting a large majority of those on the Right (81%), a smaller majority of those in the Center (64%), and only a minority of those on the Left (44.5%).
In light of the trauma and difficulties experienced by every Israeli citizen in October, we wanted to see whether there has been any change in public preferences regarding the option of emigrating to another country or remaining in Israel. We repeated the question we have now asked seven times since 2015: “If you could receive American citizenship or citizenship of another Western country, would you prefer to move there to live or would you prefer to remain in Israel?” A large majority of respondents prefer to remain in Israel (total sample, 77%; Jewish sample, 80.5%; Arab sample, 59%), and only a minority would rather move abroad (total sample, 11%; Jewish sample, 8%; Arab sample, 26%). The share of those who prefer to emigrate has fallen among both Jews and Arabs, and among Jewish respondents it now stands at its lowest level over the last decade. The decline in desire to emigrate among Arabs follows a significant increase measured in June this year.
A breakdown of Jewish respondents by political orientation reveals a large majority in each of the three camps who would prefer to remain in Israel (Left, 66%; Center, 80%; Right, 84%).
Would prefer to remain in Israel (Jewish sample and Arab sample; %)
In both the Jewish and Arab samples, this survey found the highest percentage of respondents who feel part of the state since we began asking this question in 2003. In both groups, but especially among Arabs, there has been a very sharp increase relative to the measurement taken in June 2023.
Within the Arab sample, the share of Christians and Druze who feel part of the State of Israel (84%) is markedly higher than that of Muslims (66%), but this share still constitutes a sizable majority in all religious groups. A breakdown by age finds that the largest increase in feeling part of the State of Israel and its problems is among the youngest cohort, aged 18–24 (June, 44%; November, 70%).
Feel part of the State of Israel and its problems (Jewish sample and Arab sample; %)
Furthermore, of those Arab respondents who feel part of the State of Israel and its problems, 35% are optimistic about the future of the country, compared with just 4% of those who do not feel part of the state.