Thursday, August 19, 2010

Peace Index: 77% Israeli Jews - world critical of Israel regardless of what does on the Palestinian issue

(Peace Index - August via IMRA).One of the fascinating phenomena concerning the way the Israeli Jewish public views world criticism of Israel and Israel's low status in the international community is the perception of a weak connection between Israel's actions and attitudes toward Israel. In other words, it is assumed that no matter what Israel does, it will always incur foreign criticism. The guiding assumption of the majority is that "the whole world is against us"(56%). Yet an even larger majority 77% asserts unequivocally that it makes no difference what Israel does in the Palestinian context and what policy it adopts; the world will continue to be very critical of Israel in any event.

In other words, these numbers show that while a significant number of respondents (42.5%) disagree with the maxim that the whole word is against us, many of those same individuals believe that Israel's actions and policies are not the main source of the criticism directed at the Jewish state.

On the question of how much Israel should take world opinion into account when making foreign policy decisions, a thought-provoking similarity emerged between the positions of the ultra-Orthodox and of the secular: in both groups a similar majority (54.5% and 52%,) favored taking world opinion into account.

As for paying heed to U.S. positions when formulating Israeli foreign policy, a large majority of the Jewish public, as we saw, favors consideration of the American stance, including a majority of all four groups - secular, traditional, religious, and ultra-Orthodox. However, a clear-cut majority of secular, traditional, and ultra-Orthodox respondents would take U.S. opinion into account, among the religious the finding is borderline (exactly 50% vs. 48%, with 2% responding "don't know").

Despite media reports regarding the rise in negative attitudes toward Israel in many places in the world, a slim majority (53%) of the Jewish public feels that Israel is very or somewhat isolated (vs. 46% who feel it is fairly unisolated or not isolated at all).

In this context of isolation, amid the recent "hot" debate on whether the connection of Diaspora Jewry to Israel, especially among its young generation, is weakening, we asked: "Studies have shown that many Jews in the Diaspora, particularly young people, are becoming distanced from Israel for a variety of reasons. Following are four possible reasons. Please indicate the extent to which you think each contributes to the distancing of young Jews in the Diaspora from Israel, if at all."

It turns out that a majority of the Israeli Jewish public again ascribe the responsibility for the distancing to the other side, this time to the young people of the Diaspora. Respondents attribute a strong influence on the state of Diaspora-Israel relations to the fact that young Diaspora Jews are losing the connection with their Jewish identity. In comparison, Israel's problematic policy regarding the issue of non-Orthodox denominations, which is cited repeatedly in studies and reports, as well as Israel's policy on the Palestinian issue, are seen by the Israeli Jewish public as factors with minor influence on the relationship between the young people of the Diaspora and Israel.

The highest rate of respondents (49%) attributed a strong influence to the general weakening of Jewish identity among young people in the Diaspora. An identical rate of 27% each attributed a strong influence to the fact that Israel does not grant equal status to non-Orthodox denominations and to the fading memory of the Holocaust. Only 22% attributed a strong influence to Israel's policy on the Palestinian issue.

The government received a failing grade for the handling of Israel's foreign relations by the majority (62%) of the Jewish public. Only about a third (34%) see the government's functioning in this realm as moderately or very satisfactory. Surprisingly, the Arab public is more "positive": 47% give the government a good or very good grade and a similar number assign it a bad or very bad one.

The Lieberman effect - Specifically regarding the functioning of Foreign Minister Lieberman, only a minority (35.5%) of the Jews polled think he is contributing to Israel's status in the international community whereas the majority of respondents (51%) think he is moderately or greatly damaging it.

The Peace Index project is conducted under the auspices of the Evens Program for
Conflict Resolution at Tel Aviv University and the Israel Democracy Institute. The survey was carried out by telephone on August 8-9 by the Dahaf Institute. The survey included 601 respondents, who constitute a representative sample of the adult population of Israel.An overview of the Index was published in Yediot Aharonot on August19, 2010.