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Thursday, April 30, 2009
War and Peace Index - 81% Israeli Jews optimistic about the future of the state of Israel

War and Peace Index - April 2009
Prof. Ephraim Yaar and Prof. Tamar Hermann

On the eve of the state of Israel's 61st Independence Day, despite all the
security, economic, social, and political difficulties and despite the
gloomy analyses in the media, the Jewish public is in a very good mood, with
over 80% defining their personal mood as "very good" or "moderately good."
About two-thirds also assess the mood of the public as a whole as "very
good" or "moderately good." A segmentation of the answers to the questions
on personal mood by voting for the Knesset shows that 75% or more of the
voters for all the parties define their mood as well as the national mood as
"very good" or "moderately good"; the exception is the voters for Torah
Judaism, only half (personal) and about one-quarter (national) of whom feel
that way. A segmentation of the data by age, sex, religiosity, and income
showed no gaps between the different groups. In other words, statistically
at least, what we have here is a significant finding.

As for general assessments of the state's achievements so far, the picture
is even rosier: close to 90% of the Jewish public rate the state's
achievements since its establishment as "very good" or "moderately good."
Expectations about the future are also positive: 81% are "very optimistic"
or "moderately optimistic" about the future of the state of Israel. Not
surprisingly, then, 81% of the Jewish interviewees say that if given the
choice to live in Israel or a different country, they would choose to
continue to live in Israel.

Interestingly, in the Arab public as well both personal mood and assessment
of the state's achievements tend to be positive, though to a lesser degree
than in the Jewish public. Fifty-one percent of the Arab citizens define
their mood as "very good" or "moderately good" (36% as "moderately bad" or
"very bad"). Forty-nine percent of this sector also see the public's mood as
a whole as positive (30% see it as "moderately bad" or "very bad"), and
about two-thirds view the achievements of the state as "very good" or
"moderately good." As for optimism about the future and desiring to live in
Israel compared to elsewhere, about two-thirds of the Arab interviewees were
optimistic about the country's future and an absolute majority- 94%-wanted
to continue living in Israel.

If you had the choice, would you continue to live in Israel or would you
move to another country?

Jews: live in Israel 81% Move to another country 14% Don't know 5%

Arabs live in Israel 94% Move to another country 2% Don't know 4%%

However, along with this satisfaction, other data make the picture more
complex and less encouraging. Among the Jewish interviewees, a clear
majority-71%-think people used to care more about the country than they do
today (though 61% of the Jewish interviewees report no difference in the
degree of their own concern about the country. Interestingly, the Arab
interviewees think people care more about the country today than in the past
and also report an increase in their personal concern). And when it comes to
specific issue areas, the balance between the state's successes and
nonsuccesses over the years tends to be more negative than positive, with
the only emphatically positive assessment being in the military-security
sphere-here 81% think the state has "greatly succeeded" or "moderately
succeeded." In certain areas the assessments are lower but still positive:
as for creating a stable and modern economy as well as for cultivating the
Jewish heritage-59%; creating a proper democratic system-53%. In many other
areas, however, the scale leans to the negative: only 46% think the state
has succeeded in creating a sense of unity among the people; scoring
impressive achievements in the fields of science and technology- 38% (a
particularly sharp decline compared to measurements in previous years);
achieving social equality -31%; achieving civic equality for Arabs-28%;
advancing peace-27%.

The gap between the general and specific assessment of achievements can be
interpreted in one of two ways: either the main factor influencing the
Jewish public is
the success in the military-security sphere, with the general and specific
assessments falling in line; or the whole is greater than the sum of its
parts-that is, the public is aware of the specific nonsuccesses but still
sees the state of Israel as a success overall. Although somewhat less so,
overall the Arab public's assessments of the state's achievements in the
different fields are very similar to those of the Jewish public (including
the emphasis on achievements in the military sphere). Here too the general
assessment-with two-thirds, as noted, saying the state has succeeded on the
whole- is higher than the assessment of all the issue areas combined.

The most worrisome finding, though, is the (low) degree of trust in the
different institutions: 91% of the Jewish public currently put trust in the
IDF, but only 57% put trust in the Supreme Court, 43% in the media, 39% in
the police, 34% in the government, 30% in the Knesset, and just 21% in the
political parties. In the Arab sector the data are slightly better except
for trust in the IDF, which is low at 22%. Scoring highest in the Arab
public is the Supreme Court with 67% trust, followed by the media at 55%,
the Knesset at 40%, the police at 33%, and the political parties and the
government at 31%.

The Negotiations Index for this month is: 50.4 for the entire sample (Jewish
sample- 48.7).

The War and Peace Index is funded by the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace
Research and the Evens Program in Mediation and Conflict Resolution of Tel
Aviv University. The telephone interviews were conducted by the B. I. Cohen
Institute of Tel Aviv University on April 21-22, 2009 and included 600
interviewees who represent the adult population of Israel (including the
territories and the kibbutzim). The sampling error for a sample of this size
is 4.5%.

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