Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy Institute for Policy
Patriotism and Israel's National Security
Herzliya Patriotism Survey 2006
Uzi Arad Gal Alon
by the Institute for Policy and Strategy
P.O.Box 167, Herzliya 46150, Israel
The study and discussion of patriotism in Israel, as a conceptual whole and
as a sociopolitical phenomenon, has long been shunted aside for various
reasons, some of which derive from processes that Israeli society has
undergone. In view of the fact that the Institute for Policy and Strategy
and the annual Herzliya Conferences focus on assessing the balance of
national strength and security, and since it is impossible to measure a
country's strength without addressing the patriotic component among its
citizenry, a direct examination of patriotism is required. Thus, we have
taken it upon ourselves to study patriotism on various levels, mapping it
via a specific and in-depth survey - which we aspire to conduct annually -
through an analysis of all its aspects.
This document presents the first survey results in detail, as well as the
questionnaire used in it. In preparing and conducting the survey, we built
upon similar existing questionnaires and surveys undertaken by universities
and research institutes in the U.S. and other countries. In addition, the
document includes two conceptual discussions of patriotism in order to
place it in the relevant context.
Our main interest focuses on the implications of the degree of patriotism in
society on Israel's national security. Following are several significant
findings in this vein:
. The citizens of Israel possess a large degree of Israeli patriotism
according to two intrinsic criteria - willingness to fight for it (85%) and
the desire to remain planted on its soil (87%). In comparison to other
developed countries in the West, there is none that surpasses Israel in
this declared readiness to fight for one's country.
. On the other hand, the pride of Israeli citizens in their country (77%) is
low compared to other countries, and is certainly not "blind pride". The
main sources of pride for Israelis are the scientific and technological
achievements of their country (97%) and its security forces (86%), while
the lowest levels of pride are attributed to the way its democracy works
(38%) and its social welfare system (22%).
. In general, it seems that the current spirit of Israeli patriotism - more
than being fed by ideology or Israel's historic heritage, or utopian
aspirations (to be "a light unto the nations") - is anchored in a deep
attachment to country and a sense of its being under threat.
. Most of the Israeli Arabs are not proud of their citizenship (56%), and
are not ready to fight to defend the state (73%). But the rate of Arab
Israelis who believe that Israel is better than most other countries (77%)
is among the highest in the developed world with regards to this measure.
Notably, the number of Arabs who are proud of the welfare system (53%) is
three times higher than that among Jews (17%).
. There are differences between the type and expression of patriotism among
Jewish citizens of Israel and those of Arab citizens.
Among the latter, patriotic feeling is subdued. When patriotic sentiment is
given expression, twice as many Arabs define themselves as Palestinian
patriots than as Israeli patriots.
. The patriotism of the Jewish citizens is stronger among the right than in
the ranks of the left; stronger among the religious and traditional than
among the secular; stronger among the more affluent than among the less
affluent; stronger among older people than among younger ones; and stronger
among those without university education than among those with academic
. Alienation is felt among low-wage earners in the Jewish public: They are
hesitant in their willingness to fight, and about a tenth of them are not
prepared to do so. Although their sense of attachment to the country is
high, they are nonetheless reluctant to define themselves as ardent
. There is a noticeable "patriotic decline" through the generations. Unlike
those born during the years of the state's establishment, among younger
people the elements of patriotic sacrifice and rootedness have weakened.
While refusal to fight was almost unheard of among older people, one in
every seven young Jewish citizens claims that he is not willing to fight to
defend his country (14%). Two in every five are prepared to leave the
country if their standard of living would be significantly improved by
moving abroad (44%).
The full findings of the survey warrant study and analysis. These are likely
to yield lessons and conclusions which merit discussion. For example, the
weakening of the patriotic spirit among the young Jewish generation, which
is perhaps the most troubling finding in terms of the threat to the future
strength of Israel, raises questions about the educational conclusions to
be drawn - should the weaknesses be dealt with or should the strengths be
Two different approaches towards the "patriotic deficit" can be identified.
One approach, which is post-Zionist in essence, accepts the change and
suggests adapting the state's values to the multicultural reality that is
developing within it. The second approach, on the other hand, advocates
weaving a new Zionism that preserves Israel's formative values as a Jewish
state and aspires to adapt them to the agenda of the 21st century. Inasmuch
as the responsibility for instilling and inspiring a spirit of patriotism
rests with Israel's leaders and educators, it is their task to resolve the
dilemma and cope with the challenge highlighted by this survey.
The Key Findings of this document, together with the chapter on "Patriotism
and National Strength in Israel," were written by Prof. Uzi Arad. The
survey findings, together with the chapter dealing with "Conceptual Outlines
for Patriotic Affinity," was written by Mr. Gal Alon.
Prof. Ephraim (Efi) Yuchtman-Yaar served as an advisor to the Patriotism
Project. Mr. Kalman Gayer assisted with the sampling process.
The taskforce that contributed to the survey analysis included Dr. Faisal
Azaiza, Prof. Maoz Azaryahu, Dr. Amos Carmel, Mr. Amnon Lord and Ms. Ahuva
Yanai. Complex statistical analysis was conducted with the assistance of Ms.