Nearly half of Israeli Jews say left not loyal to the state — poll
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Nearly half of Israeli Jews say left not loyal to the state — poll

Majority say criticism during times of security conflict is illegitimate; plurality backs annexation; most unmoved by fears of growing anti-Semitism in US

Marissa Newman is The Times of Israel political correspondent.

Thousands of Israelis attend a march organized by the 'Peace Now' movement from Rabin Square to the IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv on October 24, 2015. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)
Thousands of Israelis attend a march organized by the 'Peace Now' movement from Rabin Square to the IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv on October 24, 2015. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

Nearly half of Jewish Israelis believe the political left is not loyal to Israel, and a majority of citizens maintain it is illegitimate to criticize the state during times of security instability, according to a poll published on Tuesday.

The Israel Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University Peace Index also found some 44 percent of Jewish Israelis favor annexation of the West Bank, compared to 38% of opponents. But Israelis are split on an outpost legalization bill that would recognize unauthorized construction on private Palestinian land — and which some politicians, from both sides of the aisle, have described as a first step in annexing the area — with 46% siding with the government position in support of the legislation, and 43% backing the attorney general’s stance opposing the bill.

The poll of 600 respondents — 500 Jewish and 100 Arab — also revealed that most Israelis believe the Donald Trump administration will be supportive of Israel and downplay fears of an uptick in anti-Semitism in US as a result of the election.

Most (56%) back contentious legislation that would bar mosques from using loudspeakers to broadcast the call to prayer — though a majority also believe other solutions could be reached in lieu of legal action.

According to the survey results, among Jewish Israelis, 55% say “criticizing policy in times of security tension is illegitimate.”

“Hence it is not surprising, though worrisome from a democratic standpoint, that almost half of Israeli Jewish citizens think the political left is not loyal to the country (48%),” the poll’s authors said. Only 43% of Jewish Israelis and 69% of Arab Israelis say the left is loyal to the state.

Young Jewish men seen building a structure in the Jewish settlement of Amona in the West Bank, on November 28, 2016. The structure is meant to house supporters for when the state decides to evacuate the illegal settlement. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Young Jewish men seen building a structure in the Jewish settlement of Amona in the West Bank, on November 28, 2016. The structure is meant to house supporters for when the state decides to evacuate the illegal settlement. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

The survey found that supporters of West Bank annexation eclipsed the opponents (44% vs. 38%). But in a separate question, Israelis were split on whether the state must give Palestinians citizenship if it extends its sovereignty over the West Bank.

“As for the assertion that ‘If the territories are annexed and one state is established under Israeli rule, there will be no choice but to give the Palestinians full and equal civil rights,’ 48% disagree while 42% agree,” it said.

The survey, however, did not break down whether annexation supporters were in favor of or opposed to extending citizenship to Palestinians; or, conversely, whether opponents were more or less likely to agree that the government could get away with not granting citizenship to West Bank residents,

Moreover, while participants were asked whether granting citizenship was unavoidable, not preferred, the survey authors subsequently concluded that “a small but significant minority of the Jewish public supports a situation that the international community regards as apartheid.”

Israelis were also divided over the Regulation Bill, with 46% aligning themselves with the government, which supports it, and 43% with the attorney general, who is against it. The question was framed around the impending evacuation of the Amona outpost, which the proposal was originally designed to avert (the retroactive provisions that would have applied to Amona have since been excised from the legislation).

On another piece of legislation in the headlines, the survey found that 56% of Jewish Israelis support the bill to prevent mosques from using loudspeakers to announce the call to prayer, but 59% believe an agreement to lower the volume could be reached without the law. An overwhelming 93% of Arab respondents said a solution could be reached through other channels.

An Israeli flag waves in front of the minaret of a mosque in the Muslim quarter of Jerusalem's Old City on November 14, 2016. (AFP PHOTO / THOMAS COEX)
An Israeli flag waves in front of the minaret of a mosque in the Muslim quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City on November 14, 2016. (AFP PHOTO / THOMAS COEX)

Trump and Israel

Over 80% of Jewish Israelis agreed with a recent statement by Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer that “Israel has no doubt that President-elect Trump is a true friend of Israel…. We look forward to working…with all of the members of the Trump administration…and making the US-Israel alliance stronger than ever.” Among Arab Israelis, “a very similar rate thinks US-Israeli relations will flourish during Trump’s tenure, though that expectation is not necessarily to this public’s liking,” the polls said.

Israelis were also largely unperturbed over fears of a rise in anti-Semitism in the US, though those identifying with the left and center were more concerned than their right-wing counterparts.

“As we have seen, Israelis tend to expect the Trump administration to be sympathetic. Not surprisingly, then, a majority of the Jewish public (55%) views fears that the new president’s election will foster a rise in US anti-Semitism as unwarranted. Indeed, the fear of burgeoning US anti-Semitism in the wake of Trump’s election is considerably higher among those defining themselves as left-wing, and in the center as well, than among those defining themselves as right-wing,” it said.

A demonstrator holds a placard showing a picture of US President-elect Donald Trump modified to add a swastika and an Adolf Hitler-style moustache during a protest outside the US Embassy in London November 9, 2016 against Trump after he was declared the winner of the US presidential election. (AFP PHOTO / BEN STANSALL)
A demonstrator holds a placard showing a picture of US President-elect Donald Trump modified to add a swastika and an Adolf Hitler-style mustache during a protest outside the US Embassy in London November 9, 2016, against Trump after he was declared the winner of the US presidential election. (AFP PHOTO / BEN STANSALL)

However, 73% of respondents said that if there is a rise in anti-Semitic sentiment in the US, the Israeli government should intervene and pressure the White House to combat the phenomenon.

“This finding testifies both to Israeli Jewry’s solidarity with American Jewry and to their sense of responsibility toward them. It also reflects the Jewish public’s belief that Israel is capable of influencing the new US administration, and indicates the sort of ‘parental’ role that Israeli Jews assume toward Diaspora Jewry,” the authors said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President-elect Donald Trump meeting at Trump Tower in New York, September 25, 2016. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) and President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower in New York, September 25, 2016. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

The prevailing view among Jewish Israelis on West Bank construction was that Trump will not interfere (39%), while nearly one-quarter (23%) said he will support it, and 18% say he will prevent it. Nearly half of Arab Israelis believe Trump will actively encourage Israeli building (48%), while one-third say he won’t intervene, and 11% say he will block it.

Moreover, a plurality of both Jewish Israelis (47%) and Arab Israelis (42%) believe the Trump administration will push for a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

The poll was conducted by telephone from November 29 to December 1, 2016, by the Midgam Research Institute. The margin of error was ±4.1%.

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