One-Fifth of Israelis Identify with the National-Religious Sector
National-Religious Split Over Gays in Shul, Female Religious Court Judges, Refusal of Orders
The Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) has released its first comprehensive survey of Israel’s national-religious community.
In recent decades, Jewish Israeli society has experienced a shift of elites and ideologies, including the systematic movement of the national religious camp from the margins to the socio-political center stage. The transformation of Israeli society has strategic implications for the country’s character, the balance of power within the ruling institutional system, the national agenda, and even the foreign and defense policies of the state.
Previously thought to be no more than 10% of the Israeli population, the 2014 National-Religious Sector Survey reveals that more than one-fifth of Israeli Jews identify with the national-religious sector. 21% of Israeli Jews state that, to a large or very large extent, they belong to the National-Religious sector in terms of both their lifestyle and outlook. (23% state they belong to a slight extent, and 53% state they do not belong at all.)
Among the 21% of Israelis who identify to a large or very large extent with the National-Religious sector:
- Change in Religiosity on the Societal Level: 45% of the national-religious believe Israeli society has become more religious in recent years. 25% believe that Israeli society has remained the same, and 24% believe it has become more secular.
- Change in Personal Religiosity: 59% of the national-religious believe that they personally have stayed at the same level of religiosity in recent years, while 32% have become more religious and 8% have become more secular.
- Religious Self-Definition: When asked to select which best describes themselves, 11% identified as Haredi (ultra-Orthodox), 6% as Torani / Haredi-Leumi (Hardal), 31% as National-Religious, 12% as liberal or Modern Orthodox, 24% as traditional-religious, 9% as traditional non-religious, 1% as formerly religious, and 3% as secular.
- Land and Settlements
- Jewish Majority vs. Land of Israel: 62% of the national-religious believe that it is more important that the State of Israel have a Jewish majority than the entire Land of Israel from the Jordan to the Mediterranean. 22% believe that Israeli sovereignty over the entire Land of Israel from the Jordan to the Mediterranean is more important than Israel maintaining a Jewish majority.
- Refusal of Orders: 45% of the national-religious think a soldier should not refuse to follow orders even if he is opposed to a government decision to evacuate Jewish communities in the West Bank. 40% of the national-religious are in favor of refusal under such a scenario.
- Moral Standing Post-Disengagement: 69% of the national-religious do not think that the State of Israel lost its moral standing and one should therefore not obey its laws after the unilateral disengagement and expulsion of Jews from Gush Katif. 25% of the national-religious do think the state lost its moral standing and one can disobey its laws.
- Power of Religious Leadership
- Rabbinic Rulings on Political Issues: 58% of the national-religious personally attach quite a lot or a lot of importance to the halakhic rulings of rabbis on controversial political issues. 37% of the national-religious attach no or quite little importance to halakhic rulings on controversial political issues.
- Rabbinic Authority Over MKs: 51% of the national-religious believe that religious Members of Knesset should be subject to rabbinic authority when making political decisions. 43% of the national-religious do not believe that religious MKs should be subject to rabbinic authority when making political decisions.
- Political Controversies
- Amending the Law of Return: 83% of the national-religious believe that automatic Israeli citizenship should be granted only to immigrants who are Jewish according to Jewish law.
- Civil Marriage: 52% of the national-religious oppose instituting civil marriage. 24% support instituting civil marriage only for those not entitled to marry through the Chief Rabbinate. 21% favor instituting civil marriage for all who prefer it.
- Public Transportation on Shabbat: 60% of the national-religious oppose public transportation on Shabbat in areas where there are not many religious Jews. 36% of the national-religious support public transportation on Shabbat in areas where there are not many religious Jews.
- Religious Practice
- Gays in Shul: 48% of the national-religious would not accept same-sex couples in their synagogue, while 45% would accept them.
- Women as Religious Judges: 48% of the national-religious support allowing women to serve as judges in religious courts, while 42% oppose allowing women in this role.
- Israeli Independence Day: 57% of the national-religious see Israeli Independence Day as mainly an Israeli civic holiday, while 23% see it mainly as a Jewish religious holiday.
- Political Profile
- Foreign Policy / Security Spectrum: 47% of the national-religious identified themselves on the foreign policy / security spectrum as right-wingers, 31% as moderate right-wingers, 10% as centrists, 2% as moderate left-wingers, and 1% as left-wingers.
- Vote in 2013 Knesset Elections: 24% of the national-religious stated that they voted for Bayit Yehudi in the last election, while 23% voted for Likud Beytenu. 9% voted for Shas, 5% for United Torah Judaism, 3% for Yesh Atid and for Labor, 2% for Otzma LeYisrael and for Hatnua, and 1% for Kadima.
This survey, conducted from August 18 to September 2, 2013 and from October 1 to November 7, 2013, included a sample group of 978 respondents who identified themselves as belonging to the national-religious sector out of a representative nationwide sample of 4,597 adults residing in Israel. The maximum measurement error for a sample of this size is ±3.2%.
The full results of the survey are available online.