Another common denominator shared by many groups of Israelis, both in the majority and minority, is the importance they attribute to their cultural values (Jewish, Muslim, Christian) as opposed to general Western values. The survey asked Israelis “When you need to decide right from wrong, good from bad, how much do each of the following influence your decision: laws of the state, Jewish values, Western values, and values of the Arab world (asked only of non-Jews).” A majority of Jews (52 percent) and non-Jews (63 percent) say they are profoundly influenced by religious values. Naturally there is deep disagreement among Israelis as to what such values are, but there is no dispute that such values are more important to Israelis than values they identity as external to their culture.
Even among the Israelis who are secular, 58 percent of totally secular Jews and 72 percent of totally secular non-Jews, religion has a significant influence on informing their sense of morality. However, among totally secular Jews, we observe a clear trend by which the influence wanes in the younger generations. The majority of totally secular Israeli ages 18 to 34 say they are not influenced by Jewish values, compared to the majority of Israelis over 35 who say they are. If a significant gap develops between groups in Israel regarding the influence of religious values, it could be a problematic social development.
Although most Israelis are heavily influenced by their religious values when it comes to determining right from wrong, the majority of Israelis are influenced as much or to the same degree by the laws of the state – 57 percent of Jews and 51 percent of non-Jews are profoundly influenced by them. We understand from this that Israel’s minorities regard the laws of the state as a positive force, not detrimental to their lives and freedom. State laws and judicial review help guarantee citizen comfort. Thus, legislation can be used as a bridge (or a divider, if it is not well crafted) between groups in Israel who have opposing or even contradictory visions of what it means to be Israeli.