Some 45 percent of Israelis, mainly those who identify as left-wing and Arab Israelis, believe Israel’s democracy is in “serious danger,” according to a poll released on Tuesday.
The Israel Democracy Index also underlined that Israelis harbor deep distrust for their politicians, the media, and the Chief Rabbinate but are generally favorably inclined toward the courts and presidency and overwhelmingly trust the military.
According to the study, Israelis scored high on political involvement by OECD standards, but are profoundly skeptical about their political leaders. Trust in the government hovered at 29%, the Knesset at 26%, and the political parties at 15%, according to the sampling of 1,024 Israelis (160 of them Arabs) taken in May 2017.
Some 80% said politicians are more concerned with their own interests than the interests of their constituents. And the opposition was seen as hugely ineffectual, with 81% of Israeli voters who supported opposition parties saying Israel’s opposition is “weak and does not properly fulfill its function.”
Overall, some 45% of respondents agreed that Israel’s democracy is in “serious danger.” This sentiment was far more prevalent among left-wing Jewish respondents (72%) and Arab Israelis (65%), while just 23% of religiously identified and right-wing respondents agreed.
Nearing the bottom of the list of public trust in institutions was Israel’s Chief Rabbinate (20%), while the IDF again came in first place, with 81% of all Israelis and 88% of Jewish Israelis placing their confidence in the military.
In the middle were the presidency (up from 61% to 65%) and the Supreme Court (56%). On the latter, most respondents (58%) came out against a proposal by the Jewish Home’s Ayelet Shaked and Naftali Bennett to allow the Knesset to override the Supreme Court when justices overturn their legislation, according to the study.
The survey indicated that Israelis are sticking to traditional news media, but don’t necessarily place confidence in it. It said cable TV remains the primary news source for most Israelis (53%), followed by print (28%) and radio (26%). At the same time, trust in the media stood at just 28%. A large majority of participants (74%) were opposed to laws that would shut down outlets for criticizing the government.
Despite their reservations about Israel’s institutions, most continued to express satisfaction with their lives in the country, according to the survey, which was submitted to President Reuven Rivlin on Tuesday.
“The majority (73.5%) describe their personal situation as good and believe that Israel is a good place to live (84%),” the survey said.
The poll underlines the “large gap between one’s personal and general satisfaction with Israel’s situation on the one hand, and on the other hand, widespread dissatisfaction with the functioning of both Israel’s leadership and institutions,” said the Israel Democracy Institute’s Prof. Tamar Hermann in a statement.
“This gap may damage, and has perhaps already damaged, the public’s level of commitment to the democratic system of government,” she added.
Religious ‘gradually taking control’?
Some 79% of secular Jewish Israelis believe “the religious population is gradually taking control of the state,” while the majority of religious Jewish Israelis disagree, the poll said.
Just 15% of ultra-Orthodox and 16% of religious Jews agreed with the statement on encroaching religious control, according to the survey.
Some 75% of the Jewish left, 74% of Arab Israelis, 61% of Jewish secular Israelis — and 42% of Jewish Israelis overall — said the Jewish component of Israel’s character was “too strong,” the survey said.