Sunday, December 5, 2010

Israeli democracy mainly a democracy for Jews, according to findings of academic institute

President Peres receives the report from the hands of IDI-director Carmon. 

 The Israel Democracy Institute yearly takes a poll among the Israeli public in which it measures the democratic character of Israel and its institutions according to international standards. A few days ago, on 5 November  the results of the 2010 survey were published and made public during a conference in Tel Aviv.
A did hot have time to pay attention to it earlier. But some of the findings are nevertheless interesting enough, if not outright alarming. For that reason I devote as yet a few lines to the report. Particularly the attitude towards the Arab minority is what deserves attention. Here it goes:

' - Of the Jewish public, 86% believe that critical decisions for  the state should be taken by a Jewish majority.

 -  Almost two thirds (62%) of the Jewish sample feel that as long  as Israel is in a state of conflict with the Palestinians, the views of Arab citizens of Israel on foreign affairs and security issues should not be taken into account.
 - A total of 53% maintain that the state is entitled to encourage Arabs to emigrate from Israel.
 -  Roughly two thirds (67%) of Jewish Israelis feel that first-degree  relatives of Arabs should not be allowed entry into Israel under the rubric of family unification.
- As for equality in the allocation of resources, a majority of  respondents (55%) think that greater resources should be allocated to Jewish communities than to Arab ones, a minority (42%) disagrees. Nevertheless 51% of the general public say they support full equality of rights between Jews and Arabs.'
The rest of the report is probably less alarming, athough some of other the findings are remarkable as well:
 's for the democratic character of the state: there is broad support for the assertion that Israel must remain a democratic state, but the Israeli public tends to characterize the country’s democracy as weak and ineffective. The preferred solution is a more centralized government. The bulk of the survey’s respondents (60%) ascribe advantages to an authoritarian government and a strong leadership, which, as they see it, solve problems efficiently.'

The institute adds the remark that 'since the Democracy Index was first published in 2003, significant  gaps have been observed between the opinions of long-time Israelis and those of immigrants from the Former Soviet Union (hereafter: FSU immigrants). It seems, ' it says, 'that the latter are among the less liberal Israeli groups with regard to such issues as majority-minority relations and gender equality.'

As far as the concept of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state is concerned:
'Among the Israeli  public as a whole, the highest percentage—43%—consider both parts of this definition (“Jewish” and “democratic”) to be equally important; 31% classify the Jewish component as more important; and only 20% ascribe greater importance to the democratic component. Among Arab citizens of Israel, the democratic element takes precedence (38%).'

Remarkable is also the lack of trust of the general public in the state institutions:
'Only slightly more than half the general  Israeli public—54%—state that they trust the Supreme Court fully or to some extent, as opposed to 44% who state openly that they do not trust it. Only 41% of the respondents express full or partial trust in the police.'

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