Sur­vey: Is­raelis in­creas­ingly los­ing faith in gov­ern­ment

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

A lead­ing Is­raeli think tank yes­ter­day said it has found that Is­raelis are in­creas­ingly los­ing faith in their gov­ern­ment and most Is­raeli public in­sti­tu­tions - find­ings that mir­ror the global trend of dis­sat­is­fac­tion and cyn­i­cism that helped pro­pel Bri­tain’s exit from the Euro­pean Union and the vic­tory of Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump.

The Is­rael Democ­racy In­sti­tute also found a con­tin­u­ing na­tion­al­is­tic streak among the coun­try’s Jewish ma­jor­ity, with more than half of re­spon­dents in a na­tion­wide sur­vey op­posed to al­low­ing Arab po­lit­i­cal par­ties into the gov­ern­ing coali­tion. Ta­mar Her­mann, an Is­raeli pro­fes­sor who led the re­search, said the study found a “value shift” away from Is­rael’s tra­di­tional lib­eral demo­cratic roots that should con­cern its lead­er­ship.

“Is­raelis are shift­ing away from the cos­mopoli­tan point of view to a more com­mu­ni­tar­ian, na­tion­al­is­tic, eth­nic, re­li­gious point of view, much like is hap­pen­ing in other coun­tries,” said Her­mann, aca­demic di­rec­tor of the Guttman Cen­ter for Public Opin­ion and Pol­icy Re­search, which com­piles the an­nual Is­raeli Democ­racy In­dex. The study found a “sig­nif­i­cant drop” in the public’s trust in Is­raeli po­lit­i­cal in­sti­tu­tions. Trust in the Knes­set, or par­lia­ment, fell to 26.5 per­cent from 35 per­cent last year. Sim­i­larly, trust in the gov­ern­ment fell to 27 per­cent from 36 per­cent, and three quar­ters of re­spon­dents now feel their politi­cians are de­tached.

Is­raeli Pres­i­dent Reu­ven Rivlin said the find­ings were trou­bling and re­quired na­tional soul search­ing, adding that “at this mo­ment of trial for democ­ra­cies, we have to make an ef­fort so that our democ­racy will be vi­tal, strong and com­mit­ted to all it cit­i­zens.” The only in­sti­tu­tion that main­tained its strong stand­ing was the Is­raeli mil­i­tary, which is trusted by 90 per­cent of the Jewish public and 82 per­cent when the Arab mi­nor­ity is fac­tored in.

Global trends

While Her­mann cited “global trends” for the sen­ti­ments in the poll, Is­rael has been un­der­go­ing its own process of ris­ing na­tion­al­ism in re­cent years, driven by failed peace ef­forts with the Pales­tini­ans, a year­long wave of vi­o­lence in Is­rael and the West Bank, three wars against Ha­mas mil­i­tants in Gaza and the grow­ing po­lit­i­cal power of re­li­giously mo­ti­vated West Bank set­tlers in the gov­ern­ment.

The sur­vey, for ex­am­ple, found that 71 per­cent of Jewish re­spon­dents be­lieve that hu­man rights groups, which have been harshly crit­i­cized by Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu’s coali­tion, cause dam­age to the state. That was up from 56 per­cent a year ear­lier. Like­wise, it found that 59 per­cent of Jews op­pose hav­ing Arab par­ties as part of gov­ern­ing coali­tions, and 52.5 per­cent of Jews be­lieve that those who refuse to ac­cept Is­rael as the na­tion state of the Jewish peo­ple should be stripped of their right to vote.

Her­mann said that Ne­tanyahu should be “very wor­ried” about the shrink­ing level of public trust in the gov­ern­ment, but that over­all he might be pleased by the grow­ing na­tion­al­ist tide in the coun­try. “He’s not go­ing to cry over the re­sult,” she said. The Guttman Cen­ter is a divi­sion of the Is­rael Democ­racy In­sti­tute, an in­de­pen­dent non­par­ti­san think tank. The sur­vey in­ter­viewed 1,531 adults, bro­ken down be­tween Jewish and Arab re­spon­dents, last May and had a mar­gin of er­ror of 2.9 per­cent­age points for the Jewish sam­ple, and 6.6 points for its smaller Arab sam­ple. —AP

JERUSALEM: Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu, cen­ter, at­tends the weekly cabi­net meet­ing. —AP

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