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Thursday, June 24, 2010
War and Peace Index May 2010

War and Peace Index
May 2010
Prof. Ephraim Yaar and Prof. Tamar Hermann

The last few weeks have been marked by tensions between Israel and many
countries of the world, some of them hostile for years and some more or less
friendly. This is indeed because of the flotilla incident in particular, but
also part of a wider context of growing criticism of Israel's policy
regarding the occupation and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The campaign in the sphere of international public opinion, together with
the domestic criticism of the functioning of the country's decision-makers,
sparked an upsurge in indicators of patriotism, the superficial impression
being that the Jewish public is united in perceiving that "the whole world
is against us." The present survey looks into this phenomenon. The
conclusion is that, while most of the Jewish public indeed supports a tough
policy toward the Palestinians, not inconsiderable parts of it are
aware-more than appears at first glance-of a connection between Israel's
behavior and its deteriorating image in international public opinion.

We asked: "Some claim that despite the international criticism, Israel
should continue the blockade of Gaza and only allow the entry of the most
essential items so as to keep the pressure on Hamas and prevent attacks from
there on Israel. Others claim that the price Israel is paying for the
blockade in world public opinion is higher than the risks of removing it.
With which opinion do you agree more?" A sweeping majority of the Jewish
public-78%-sided with the first claim, voiced repeatedly in the past by
decisionmakers, that the blockade should be continued so as to pressure
Hamas and prevent attacks. Only a minority-17%-thought the price in terms of
international public opinion was too high (note that the survey was done
before Prime Minister Netanyahu's announcement on canceling the limitations
Israel had imposed in the past on the entry of goods into Gaza). In the Arab
public the picture is indeed the reverse: only a minority- 23%-agreed with
the first, security-oriented claim, while the overwhelming majority-
71%-agreed that the price of the blockade for Israel's international image
is too steep.

A segmentation of the Jewish public's answers to this question by voting in
the latest Knesset elections shows that among voters for all the parties a
solid majority favors the first claim-with the exception of Meretz voters,
where a majority (81%) sides with the second claim.

A segmentation of the answers by degree of belief or lack of belief in the
possibility that negotiations with the Palestinian Authority will ultimately
lead to peace, revealed that in both groups, the believers and the
nonbelievers, a majority favors continuing the blockade of Gaza, but at
different rates: 62% of the believers in the possibility of peace as an
outcome of negotiations versus 83% of those who do not believe in this. A
segmentation of the answers to this question by self-ranking as secular,
traditional, religious, or haredi found that here, too, in all the groups a
majority favored the first view. The majority grows, however, in direct
connection to degree of religiosity: 70% of the secular, 81% of the
traditional, 90% of the religious, and 93.5% of the haredi. In addition, we
asked: "Recently Israel's status in the international community has fallen,
and more and more voices even question its right to exist. Do you think
there is or is not a connection between this trend and the policy of the
current Israeli government?" Here the picture is more balanced-that is, the
Jewish public is split down the middle. Whereas 48% see no connection
between Israel's policy and its declining international status, the exact
same rate of 48% consider that there is some connection, or even a strong
one, between the trend in world public opinion and Israel's policy. The
picture in the Arab sector is more clear-cut: only 30% see no connection
while 69% see some, or a strong, connection between Israel's policy and its
international status. A segmentation of the answers to this question in the
Jewish sector by voting in the latest Knesset elections shows that among
voters for most of the parties a majority sees no connection, but among
voters for Kadima, Labor, Hadash and Meretz only a minority of varying size
(37%, 44%, 39%, and 9%, respectively) concurs whereas the majority claims
some or a strong connection.

A segmentation of the answers to this question by degree of belief or
disbelief in the possibility that negotiations with the Palestinian
Authority will eventually produce peace, revealed that among those who
believe in the possibility of peace only a minority- 32%-think there is no
connection between Israel's policy and its deteriorating international
status, while among those who do not believe in it a majority of 55% sees no
connection between policy and image and says Israel's right to exist will be
questioned no matter what it does.

On this question, too, a direct connection emerged between self-definition
on degree of religiosity and opinion as to whether there is or is not a
connection between Israel's policy and its image in the world: whereas among
the haredi and the religious a majority sees no connection and thinks the
world is against us in any case (71% and 59%, respectively), among the
traditional and the secular a minority, albeit large, holds this view (49%
and 42%, respectively). These findings reconfirm the close connection we
have found over the years between degree of religiosity and degree of
rigidity on issues of Israeli foreign and defense policy.

Negotiation index: Jewish sector: 46.0; overall public: 46.3

The War and Peace Index is written by Prof. Tamar Hermann and Prof. Ephraim
Yaar under the auspices of the Evans Program for Conflict Resolution of Tel
Aviv University and the Israel Democracy Institute. The telephone interviews
were conducted by the Dahaf Institute from June 7-9, 2010, and included 603
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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