Presentation of the 2005 Israeli Democracy Index

On November 2, 2005, the Israel Democracy Institute released the 2005 Israeli Democracy Index, entitled Auditing Israeli Democracy – A Decade after the Assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. This study by IDI's Guttman Center studied the quality and functioning of Israeli democracy ten years after the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, at a time when the country was in the shadow of the campaign against the Gaza disengagement plan. The main findings of this year's Index indicate that Israelis are fearful of another political assassination and uncertain that the lessons of the murder were taken to heart.

Special Findings Related to the Assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin:

  • Political Assassination: 84% of the respondents say that a political assassination could happen again (34% of them are fairly sure that such an assassination will happen again).
  • Collective Memory of Rabin: 77% of the respondents mention Rabin’s assassination as the most significant event in the history of Israel since its creation.
  • Rabin’s Role as Former Prime Minister: Respondents placed Yitzhak Rabin first on a scale of Israeli prime ministers ranked according to their functioning, with 30%; after which came Menachem Begin (22%), and in third place was David Ben-Gurion (18%).

General Findings:

  • Civil War: 42% think that the likelihood of a civil war as a result of attempts to reach agreements on the future of the occupied territories is very high, while a further 30% assign this a low probability. Only 28% hold a civil war to be unlikely.
  • Government Institutions: The most striking finding was a 9% drop in the degree of public trust in the police, an 8% drop in the degree of trust in the IDF, a 7% drop in the degree of trust in the Supreme Court and the Chief Rabbinate, and a 6% drop in the degree of trust in the State Attorney’s office. Nevertheless, the IDF continues to be the institution enjoying the highest level of public trust (78%), followed by the Supreme Court (70%). It seems plausible to construe the findings concerning the IDF and the police within the context of the disengagement plan, which places these two institutions at the eye of the storm.
  • The State of Democracy: As in previous surveys, the Democracy Index tests the strength of democracy in Israel and the level of support for it. This year, a drop of 5% was recorded in the number of those holding that democracy is the desirable regime for Israel, although their number is still large – 80% in 2005 compared to 85% in 2004. A similar drop was recorded in the number of those who declared democracy the best form of government – 74%, compared to 80% in 2004.
  • The Social-Ideological Rift: Deep social and ideological rifts are a well known characteristic of Israeli society, and participants in the survey were asked for their views concerning the relationships between different groups in the population. 31% point to good relationships between religious and secular Jews, a rise of 3% compared to last year, and only 11% hold that relations between Jews and Arabs are good, a drop of 5% compared to 2004. Furthermore, a significant rise was recorded in the number of those opposed to the claim that a Jewish majority is required on decisions fateful to the country, such as returning territories – 34% in 2005 compared to 23% in 2004. A rise of 9% was recorded in the number of respondents opposed to the demand that the government encourage Arab emigration from the country – 50% oppose such encouragement in 2005, compared to 41% in the previous year.
  • The Social-Economic Rift: In the social-economic realm, only 19% hold that relationships between the rich and the poor are good, as compared to 24% who had held this view in 2004. A drop of 8%, however, was recorded in the number claiming that social-economic equality in the country is inadequate (80% in 2005, compared to 88% a year ago). Also, 63% of the respondents hold that men are not necessarily more successful political leaders than women, compared to 70% in the previous year.
  • Interest in Politics: 71% of the respondents in the Democracy Index survey reported an interest in politics (a rise of 4% compared to 2004), 81% reported that they stay informed about politics daily or several times a week. About two thirds discuss political issues with their friends and their families, but only 5% are active in or favor a specific political party (a drop of 2% compared to 2004).
  • Israeli Pride: 83% of the participants in The 2005 Israeli Democracy Index are proud to be Israeli – a rise of 4% compared to 2004; 89% want to remain in Israel in the long term – a rise of 2% compared to the previous year; 88% are certain that they will remain in the country, and 77% feel themselves part of the State of Israel and its problems – a rise of 4% compared to the 2004 survey.