70% of secular Jewish Israelis feel threatened by new government, survey shows

Israel Democracy Institute poll finds 60% of left-wing Israelis expect increased emigration; majority says Netanyahu made too many concessions to hardline allies in coalition talks

Michael Bachner is a news editor at The Times of Israel

An LGBTQ rights protest against the new government, in Tel Aviv, December 29, 2022. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
An LGBTQ rights protest against the new government, in Tel Aviv, December 29, 2022. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

A big majority among secular Jewish Israelis feel their lifestyles are threatened by the new hardline government, with most left-wing Israelis predicting increased emigration from the country, a survey showed Wednesday.

It also found that a majority of Israelis believe Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu mishandled coalition negotiations by making excessive concessions to his far-right and ultra-Orthodox allies.

The Israel Democracy Institute’ monthly Israeli Voice Index polled a representative national sample on attitudes toward the conservative right-wing government Netanyahu swore in last week, widely seen as the most hardline in the country’s history.

Its members, and its coalition deals, have promised far-reaching and fundamental changes, including judicial override, plans to annex the West Bank, canceling anti-discrimination laws and allowing gender-segregated events, as well as giving unprecedented power to radicals who espouse anti-Arab, homophobic and misogynistic views.

Asked whether they were worried that they will be unable to maintain their preferred lifestyle because of the increasing power of certain groups in Israeli society, 70 percent of secular Jews said they were, compared with 46.5% of those defined as traditional with a non-religious tendency, 34% of traditional Jews with a religious tendency, 22% of national religious and 19% of ultra-Orthodox.

With prominent opposition politicians having called for massive protests against the government, and numerous companies, financial and other bodies, activists and professionals from various fields denouncing its avowed policies, 64% of those surveyed said it was likely that a wave of street demonstrations would soon erupt.

File: Haredi Jews at a gender-segregated concert in the northern city of Afula on August 14, 2019. (Meir Vaknin/Flash90)

Thirty-five percent expected increased emigration from Israel in reaction to the hardline government, the survey found. This includes 60% of left-wing voters, 45% of center voters and 25% of right-wing voters.

Other measures, such as a tax rebellion or a refusal to show up for IDF reserve duty, were regarded as unlikely among all groups.

The survey found that a majority of Israelis believe the nascent coalition will weaken Israel’s international standing — 51.5%, versus 29% who think it will improve and 9% saying it won’t have an effect.

Almost half of those surveyed said they believe the coalition will worsen the civil status of Arabs — 48% compared to 22% who say it will improve and 15% who don’t believe it will matter. The respondents were not asked a similar question about women or the LGBTQ community, many of whom have also expressed fears.

President Isaac Herzog and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pose for a group picture of the new government at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, on December 29, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Also among the findings, 60% of the 601 respondents thought Netanyahu had handled the coalition talks terribly or very poorly, while 32% graded his effort as excellent or very good.

The survey found that predictably, opinions were divided across partisan lines, although a substantial minority among voters of Netanyahu’s Likud (38%) and Religious Zionism (36%) gave the premier a negative rating.

In a similar question, 62% said Likud had made too many concessions to its coalition partners — 60% of Likud voters and at least 85% among the voters of each center-left Jewish party — with just 26% of respondents disagreeing.

Three-quarters of respondents said Haredi influence over national politics exceeds the community’s share of the population, with just 19% disagreeing.

Regarding three other groups — women, Arabs and the LGBTQ community — most respondents (between 55% and 57%) think their political influence is smaller than their share of the population.

The survey was conducted on the internet and by phone on December 26-28 among 601 Hebrew-speaking Israelis and 150 Arabic speakers, constituting a representative sample of Israel’s adult population. The margin of error was 0.359%. It was conducted by the Viterbi Center for Public Opinion and Policy Research of the Israel Democracy Institute, with fieldwork by the Midgam Institute.

Most Popular
read more: