JPPI Israeli Society Index

JPPI Israeli Society Index

JPPI’s Israeli Society Index is based on a monthly survey of a representative sample of Israelis — Jews and non-jews — who are asked about their positions on a variety of issues on the Israeli agenda.

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JPPI Israeli Society Index

Most Israelis feel that Israel should agree to the Biden cease-fire plan; confidence in the government and the IDF command echelon continues to drop.

To download the PDF version, click here.

Main Finding

The Jewish People Policy Institute’s monthly Israeli Society Index identifies a high level of concern among the general public regarding the state of social cohesion in Israel. Most of the public specifies “right-left” tension as an eroding factor affecting cohesion, but Arab Israelis attach greater importance to “Jewish-Arab” tension, and the secular public also attributes considerable importance to “religious-secular” tension.

The report has three main parts. The first deals with the war and its repercussions, the second with Israel’s relations with the rest of the world, and the third with Israeli and Jewish unity.

Additional Findings

  • Most Israelis feel that Israel should agree to the Biden cease-fire plan, because it is “good” (the position of most Arab Israelis), or “despite the fact that it is problematic” (the prevalent view among Jewish Israelis).
  • The preferred option for the “day after” in Gaza: civil administration by Palestinian elements and Arab states with Israel responsible for security.
  • If an extreme paucity of options are available, most would prefer civil administration under the Palestinian Authority in Gaza (with Israel controlling security) over an Israeli civil administration there.
  • The proportion of Israelis expressing no confidence in the possibility of an Israeli victory in the war remains higher than the share of those who are confident that Israel will win.
  • Confidence in the government and the IDF command echelon continues to drop; trust in commanders is falling mainly on the political right; trust in the prime minister remains low.
  • A third of Jewish Israelis feel that Israel should attack “Hezbollah with full force as soon as possible” and not wait for the end of the campaign in the south.
  • Members of all ideological camps, except for those on the right, are concerned about the possibility that “Israel will become a pariah state among Western countries.”
  • The percentage of Jewish Israelis who feel that they have a “shared future” with Diaspora Jews has risen significantly.
  • Most Arab Israelis believe that the decision by the International Court of Justice against Israeli operations in Rafah stems from “concern for innocents,” while most Jewish Israelis believe the decision was rooted in anti-Israel/anti-Jewish bias.

The Ongoing War

JPPI’s June Israeli Society Index survey was conducted in the days following President Biden’s May 31 speech in which he laid out his proposal (presented as Israel’s proposal in negotiations) for a ceasefire agreement, the release of hostages – and, according to him, but contrary to Israeli assertions, an end to the war. A majority of the Israeli public accepts the Biden plan, albeit unenthusiastically. A quarter of Jewish Israelis (and a large majority of Arab Israelis) view the Biden proposal as a good one, and that it should be accepted.

Another third feel that the plan is “problematic” but should be accepted because no better option is in sight (and their confidence of victory in the war, as discussed later, is low). A third of all Israelis, and four out of ten Jewish Israelis, believe the Biden plan should be rejected. Among those aligned with the political right, a large majority (79%) feel that the plan should be rejected. Among supporters of the Religious Zionist Party, whose leaders announced their opposition to the Biden plan shortly after it was made public, 85% oppose the plan and think it should be rejected.

Control of Gaza

Most Jewish Israelis do not favor Israeli civil administration of Gaza after the war, but most do want Israel to maintain security control of Gaza. An examination of various scenarios listed in the survey shows that the largest group by far chose the option of “civil administration by Palestinian elements and Arab countries with security under Israeli responsibility” as their preferred post-war arrangement. A fifth of all Jewish Israelis chose the option of full Israeli control, civil and security. This option was selected mainly by those who self-identify as part of the political right (of these, 46% chose full control). This option was especially prevalent among Religious Zionist Party voters, 57% of whom prefer it to the other scenarios. The preferred scenario for all the other political groups is the one mentioned previously – a Palestinian civil administration with Israeli security control.

In a follow-up question, we tried to determine how preferences would change if the sole alternative to complete Israeli post-war control was Palestinian Authority administrative control with Israel responsible for security. The switch to a binary choice raised the proportion of Jews who would choose full Israeli control from a fifth to a third, but left the option of Israeli security control at 59%. As can be seen below, when there were only two options, the right-wing camp remains an outlier compared with the other groups (it should be mentioned, however, that this is the largest of all the groups).

Confidence in Victory

The June Index shows no significant change from May in the degree of confidence that Israel will win the war. The May Index signaled a turnaround: from a majority expressing high confidence that Israel would win the war, to a majority lacking that confidence. The June data is similar to May’s. That is, there was no additional decline in confidence levels, but there was also no improvement from May to June. Israeli views on this topic correlate strongly with ethnicity and political orientation. Most Arab Israelis have low confidence in an Israeli victory, while Jewish Israelis express greater confidence in victory the further right they are on the political spectrum. Among those who self-identify as right-wing, 62% report high confidence in an Israeli victory (4 or 5 on a scale of 1 to 5). Among centrists, 30% are very confident, and among the left (a relatively small group), 16% are highly confident of in Israeli victory.

Trust in Leadership

The June data indicates a further drop in public trust in the government, perhaps in light of the ultimatum regarding the National Unity Party’s withdrawal from the government, which was issued before the survey was administered. Only 18% of Arab Israelis have fairly or very high trust in the government. Among Jewish Israelis, a quarter have fairly or very high trust in the government (44% of those on the right). Israelis expressing a high level of trust in the government are mainly Likud and Shas voters.

Trust in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been low throughout the months of the crisis, and remains low in June. Forty-three percent of Likud voters have high trust in the prime minister, while 30% say their trust is “fairly high.” The findings are similar for Shas voters, and slightly lower for United Torah Judaism voters. Among Religious Zionist Party voters, more than half express (fairly or very) high trust in the prime minister, though 45% report fairly low or low trust in Netanyahu.

Last month a steep decline in trust in the IDF command echelon was detected, and this remains so in June as well. Low trust in IDF commanders is especially prevalent among the right-wing, which is also evident in public discourse. IDF commanders are exposed to ongoing criticism by leaders and opinion-influencers on the right side of the political map. Low trust in commanders among the right-wing, which last month reached 55% (fairly low and low) passed the 60% mark this month. Trust levels remain relatively high among those who self-identity as “centrist” (73%) or center-left (78%).

Tension in the North

The survey was conducted at a time when tension on the northern border was very high, as reflected in large fires throughout the Galilee. This is likely the reason for a certain rise in the percentage of those who feel that Israel should attack Hezbollah with full force without waiting for the operation in the south to conclude. This view is especially prominent among those who self-identify as right-wing (57% support an immediate offensive), especially Likud voters and, to an even greater degree, Religious Zionist Party voters. By contrast, other groups show a more balanced distribution between those who favor an offensive “as soon as possible” and those who would prefer an offensive at the end of the Gaza campaign. Among the center-left and the left, a diplomatic solution to the situation on the northern border is preferred.

Israel and the World

Israel versus the World

International legitimacy is one of the issues with which Israelis have had to contend in recent months. This comes against the backdrop of possible International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrants against Israeli leaders, as well as anti-Israel demonstrations in many countries around the world. Sixty-three percent of Jewish Israelis are worried about the possibility of Israel becoming a pariah state in the West, a slight drop compared to last month. On this issue there is a significant ideology-driven disparity between right-wing adherents, most of whom (51%) are “not at all concerned,” and the other political affiliation groups, in which a majority are (somewhat or very) concerned. Among the ultra-Orthodox, a large majority are “not at all concerned” (68%).

The Hague Decisions

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) directive opposing Israeli operations in Rafah drew cross-party criticism in Israel. Most Jewish Israelis feel that this ruling, as well as other ICJ rulings and the pending ICC arrest warrants, are not legitimate but rather driven by anti-Jewish or anti-Israeli sentiment or, in a less problematic scenario, based on a “lack of understanding of the situation.” Jewish and Arab Israelis are divided on this issue, with most Arabs maintaining that the ICJ ruling stemmed primarily from concern about harm to Palestinian innocents.

Among Jews, the only group believing that the ICJ ruling had a legitimate basis (concern for innocents) is those who identify as left-wing, with 57% choosing this option. Center-left and centrist respondents chose the “lack of understanding” option, while a large majority of the right-wing chose the “anti-Israel/anti-Jewish stance” option (56% of center-right respondents, 78% of right-wing respondents).

In a follow-up question, we tried to determine whether all the “responsibility” for the ICJ directive lies with the judges, or whether Israel’s behavior played a role in how the ruling coalesced. A third of Israelis believe that “statements by Israeli leaders” were a significant impetus for the ruling, and that without those statements the ruling would have been different. Another third of Israelis believe that statements by leaders “contributed somewhat” but do not think those statements played a decisive role, and still another third attach no importance at all to statements by Israeli leaders on the ICJ decision.

As might be expected, voters of the parties whose members head the Israeli leadership, and whose statements were noted by the ICJ in its reasoning, tend to assume that these statements played no role in the ruling. By contrast, voters of the parties whose leaders criticized the ICJ, but also criticized the statements by right-wing leaders mentioned by the ICJ, tend to think that those statements played a significant role in the ruling.

A Common Future for Jews

Against the backdrop of anti-Israel demonstrations whose tone slid into antisemitism, and growing anxiety among Diaspora Jews of a wave of antisemitism, a significant rise has been detected this year in the sense of a shared fate between Israeli and Diaspora Jews. Compared with data from previous years, the percentage of Israeli Jews who “strongly agree” that all Jews have a “common future” has surged. If we add those who “somewhat agree” with that statement, we find that eight in ten Israeli Jews see a “common future” for Israeli and Diaspora Jews. The consensus among the secular on this statement is smaller though still amounting to 70%, and 62% among left-wing Israelis. It is even larger among all other groups.

Israeli Cohesion

A large percentage of Israelis are concerned about Israeli social cohesion. Among Jewish Israelis, over 80% are “concerned” or “very concerned” about the state of cohesion. The share of those who are “very concerned” is high across all population groups, but particularly high among the center and left.

Has there been a rise in the level of social concern? A change in how we worded the question this month compared with a similar question posed in February makes it difficult to draw a firm conclusion. The wording was changed to make the meaning of the question, and its responses, more precise. From a question about the “social situation” we shifted to a question about the “state of social cohesion.” As can be seen in the following table, the responses are not very different. This may testify to a certain increase in the level of high concern, or it may be due to the wording change.

The Main Tension

In a follow-up question we asked “which tension” out of a list of tensions presented to respondents affects “social cohesion” more than the others. Here we see a major disparity between the responses of Jewish Israelis, most of whom identify the “right-left” tension as the one that most affects cohesion (for the worse, as most feel that the state of cohesion is not good), and Arab Israelis, who view the “Jewish-Arab” tension as the one that affects cohesion most.

Within the Jewish sector, broken down by religiosity level, we find a broad consensus on the outsized importance of the “right-left” tension compared with other sources of tension. However, it is worth noting that a substantial proportion of those who self-identify as “secular” view the “secular-religious” tension as the primary tension. In this context, it is worth pointing out that Israel’s political segmentation closely correlates with religiosity, meaning that the “right-left” tension is largely also the “secular-religious” tension. However, the “right-left” emphasis refers primarily to foreign and security policy, and to the Palestinian issue in particular (as will be explained below). By contrast, the “secular-religious” emphasis refers to differences on matters of religion and state, and to cultural gaps between different groups.

Incidentally, when we look at voting intentions, voters who emphasize the “religious-secular” tension are mainly Yesh Atid voters (40%) and Yisrael Beiteinu voters (47%). Yisrael Beiteinu voters are the only ones who place the “religious-secular” tension as first in importance (right-left among Yisrael Beiteinu voters: 40%).

How the Camps are Defined

In this month’s survey, we repeated a question from last February posed to the same respondent panel in a different framework. The objective was to see how Israelis (in this case Jews) explain their affiliation with a particular political camp. As can be seen in both iterations, the result attests to the dominance of the Israeli-Palestinian issue as a delineator of political identity. At the same time, in both surveys other topics were chosen at similar rates – chief among them, the “cultural vision” consideration.

The importance of “cultural vision” in shaping political identity is interesting because it markedly characterizes one particular political camp. The Israeli-Palestinian issue is most dominant for the Israeli right (as has been the case in Israel in recent decades), but our survey shows (for the second time this year) that one camp (the right as a whole) self-defines primarily according to political outlook, and the diametrically opposed camp (the left as a whole) self-defines mainly according to cultural considerations (centrists choose both options at equal rates). Of course, the attributes chosen largely depend on the options available to respondents, and it may be that the situation here is not one of cultural change but of change arising from the decision to offer the category of “cultural vision.” Even if this explains the finding, it likely testifies to the slightly different rationales individuals use in determining the camp to which they affiliate.

A Shared Future for Israelis

Most Jewish and Arab Israelis agree that the two groups share a common future. Among Jews there was a slight drop in the percentage who believe that all Israeli citizens have a shared future, but the data is not anomalous when compared with earlier years.

Overall, seven in ten Israelis, Jews and Arabs, agree with the statement about a shared future. This statement does not elicit majority agreement among the right-wing (though it does have a majority among the center-right), or among the religious and ultra-Orthodox.

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Data was collected for JPPI’s June survey by theMadad.com (601 Jewish respondents via an online poll) and by Afkar Research (202 Arab respondents, half online and half by phone). The data was analyzed and weighted by political affiliation and religiosity level to represent Israel’s adult population. Shmuel Rosner and Noah Slepkov compile the JPPI Israeli Society Index. Statistical consultant: Professor David Steinberg.

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