I’ve reported in past years on the Israel Democracy Institute’s annual poll on the health (or illness) of Israeli democracy. The results are usually quite dispiriting if you ever believed in such a concept. But they are always instructive.
Given the IDI is a liberal Zionist organization intent on maintaining what little remains of Israeli democracy, many of the questions in the poll appear quite self-serving to me. They’re meant to prove that while things may be bad, they’re not that bad. So I’m going to ignore reporting on questions which seem to be leading or tendentious. Here are the results I found most interesting:
- 60% of Israelis believe there is a troubling disparity in income which “negatively affects the State’s democratic character.”
- 58% believe the Knesset should not remove the Supreme Court’s right to judicial review of legislation (36% believe it should).
- 42% believe that democracy is good in theory but not good in running a country
- nearly 80% believe they cannot effect change in government policies
- 44% believe that the “left-wing” legal system, media and academia are frustrating the ability of the right-wing to govern
- while 26% of Israeli Palestinians said the primary purpose of a democratic state was to guarantee full equality for all citizens, only 11% of Israeli Jews believe this.
- 47% of Israeli Jews said that the meaning of a “Jewish state” meant “primarily nationality.”*44
- 29% of Israeli Palestinians said a “Jewish state” meant “racism,” while 26% said it “belonged only to Jews,” and 18% said it was “not democratic.”
- 44% of Israeli Jews said that a citizen who said Israel was “not the nation state of the Jewish people” should be denied the right to vote.
- 31% believe that government funding of the public broadcasting authority should give politicians the right to influence its content.
- around 55% of Israelis get their primary news from TV; 25% from radio; 25% from print media; 30% from social media; nearly 20% from blogs*
- 88% of Israeli Jews place their highest trust in the IDF; only 27% in the Knesset; and 15% in political parties
- 41% of Israeli Palestinians place their highest trust in the IDF (!); 19% place their highest trust in the Knesset
- 59% of Israeli Jews believe that human rights NGOs damage the State
- while the poll’s findings are in the approximate mid-range for international indices, they are extremely low compared to OECD countries. Compared to the latter: Israel is in the 14th percentile for political rights, 6% civil rights, 17% freedom of the press, 14% for representation and accountability,
A few comments on the findings: it’s bizarre that Israeli Jews would say the primary meaning of being a Jewish state is that it provides a national identity. You would either have to be a Jewish supremacist to believe this; or not understand the difference between a state and a religion. At any rate, this finding goes to the heart of the contradiction between religion and democracy and proves that they contradict each other. Nationality derives from nationhood, not from religion.
The findings about how Israelis get their news compares in interesting fashion to American habits: 57% of us get our new from TV; 38% online (social media, blogs, etc.); 25% radio; and 20% newspapers.