Each year the Guttman Center of the Israeli Democracy Institute Publishes it Democracy Index, a “snapshot” of how Israeli citizens feel about the way their democracy is operating. This years “snapshot” will not go into any family albums.
Israelis are very dissatisfied with the way their government is operating. They think that politicians do not care about their opinions and are only out for themselves. Citizens are proud to be Israelis and are proud of their nations accomplishments but over 85% feel their leaders are dealing with the countries problems correctly and a whopping 71% do not believe the government’s report on security matters.
According to the poll, Israeli citizens are longing for strong leadership, something Olmert’s corrupt, indecisive leadership is not providing now. Speaking of Ehud the Invertebrate, the poll also points out the growing frustration with him only 29% of the respondents trust the Prime Minister. This question is not about agreeing or disagreeing with is policy its about trusting. Clearly the Israeli populace does not trust their current government. The full report follows.
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The Israel Democracy Institute’s 2007 Israeli Democracy Index: Cohesiveness in a Divided Society assesses the resilience of Israeli democracy. The 2007 Index findings testify to a significant decline in satisfaction with the functioning of Israeli democracy: 66% of respondents stated that they are not satisfied with the way in which Israeli democracy functions – a rise of 12% since last year; the respondents also agreed that Israeli politicians tend not to take the average citizen’s opinion into account (70%). Another interesting survey finding is that 59% of those interviewed stated that they favor a socialist-economic approach over capitalism.
The Democracy Index is produced by IDI’s Guttman Institute, by Yael Hadar and Nir Atmor under the direction of Professor Asher Arian. The Index includes data from a public opinion survey based on a representative sample of 1,203 interviewees in 3 languages, conducted by Machshov as well as assessments and comparative data from international research institutes. Every year the survey findings are presented at a conference held under the auspices of the President of Israel. Due to current circumstances, this year’s results are being released directly to the public. The implications for Israel’s democratic polity of the aforementioned data and other grave survey findings should give pause not only to those involved in Israeli politics, but to others as well.
The 2007 Index is currently being translated into English and will soon be available. All Indices are available for free download on this site.
Major Index Findings:
- 79% of those interviewed are concerned with the current situation in Israel.
- 76% of Israeli citizens are proud to be Israeli, despite the current atmosphere. More than they are proud of their Israeli citizenship, 80% of Israelis want or seriously intend to continue living in Israel in the long term. Those who express doubt on this matter attribute it to the security and economic situations. Most Israelis deeply identify with the state and the problems that it faces, and are prepared to fight for their country should the need arise.
- A strong leader: There has been a significant increase in the percentage of those who agree that a few strong leaders would prove more useful to the state than all of the discussions held and laws passed – 69% in 2007 versus 60% last year.
- 86% of state that the government is not dealing adequately with the country’s problems. Only 29% give credence to statements issued by the political echelon regarding Israel’s security.
- 70% agree that politicians tend not to take the average citizen’s opinion into account.
- 68% of those interviewed believe that the people running the country are motivated by personal interests rather than the public good.
- Trust in the institutions of the State: The Index’s most conspicuous finding is a 22% decline in the level of trust shown by the public in the Prime Minister – 21% versus 43% a year ago. Trust in the President declined from 67% to 22%, and trust in the Supreme Court dropped from 68% to 61%. Trust in the Israeli Police Force declined by 3% to 41% while trust in the IDF registered a decline from 79% to 74%. Trust in the Knesset dropped from 79% to 74%, while trust in the government dropped from 39% to 31%. Trust in the media actually rose from 44% to 45%.
- The Supreme Court is perceived by 39% of the public as the institution that most effectively safeguards democracy, followed by the media at 34%, the Prime Minister at 14%, and the Knesset at 13%. A significant increase was registered in the degree of trust placed in the media as a means to safeguard democracy – from 25% to 34%.
- The public trusts the IDF, despite the outcome of the Second Lebanon War, with only 13% stating that the defense budget should be cut. The remainder feel that the budget should be increased, or left as it is.
- 61% of respondents do not rely on statements made by the military echelon on defense matters, while 71% do not believe the political echelon’s declarations regarding security policy.
Israel is characterized by deep social and ideological rifts, and the issue of how the country’s disparate population groups interact is extensively addressed in the book.
- 82% of respondents feel that there is no justification for cutting social services in favor of defense. Only 19% say that they belong to or participate in a social organization that works to promote the public good.
- 59% of the public favors a socialist-economic approach over capitalism. This is a trend that started in 2000. Up until 2000 the Israeli public supported a more capitalistic policy.
- 79% said that relations between the rich and poor in Israel are not good; and, 66% felt that the religious and secular do not get along.
- The degree of trust that Israeli citizens place in each other has suffered a major decline in recent years: only 31% of Israelis trust each other. However, 65% believe that their fellow Israelis are prepared to make concessions on issues that are important to them in order to reach a consensus that will make it possible for everyone to live here together.
- 87% of survey participants rated Jewish-Arab relations in Israel as poor or very poor.
- 55% of Jewish interviewees agree that “Arabs will not reach the cultural level of the Jews,” while 51% of Arab respondents agree that “Jews are racist.”
- Jewish and Arab respondents stated that they find it difficult to trust each other and expressed the belief that the other side tends to behave violently (73% of interviewees agree that the other side has a tendency towards violent behavior).
- 75% of the respondents believe that there is a great deal of corruption in Israel.
Social cohesiveness was an outstanding attribute of Israeli society. In ordinary times, and even more so during times of crisis, values such as reciprocity, solidarity, and cohesiveness have come to the fore. However, in recent years and especially in the months following the Second Lebanon War, the climate in Israel has become increasingly characterized by a sense of weariness and disgust with the political process in general and with the Israeli political system in particular. The reasons for the decline in public morale are many and varied. In addition to the terrorism and ongoing conflict with the Palestinians, the outcome of the Second Lebanon War is worrisome to many Israelis. Another troubling issue is that of the disgust felt by Israelis towards what they perceive as rampant corruption. Satisfaction with the rule of law, the civil service, and the political leadership is shrinking year by year, while tensions within Israeli society continue to simmer with no hope of resolution in sight. One need only consider the finding that 79% of Israelis are worried by the country’s current situation in order to understand the sensitive situation in which Israeli democracy finds itself in 2007: unstable, fragile, and in need of support and nurturing. Nevertheless, the resilience of Israeli society is apparent in the fact that 79% of the survey respondents feel capable of adapting to the current situation, while 84% attest to at least some degree of belief in Israel’s strength and continued existence.
If Winograd didn’t convince you of the Olmert government need to resign than this should. This isn’t politics, when a nation loses faith in its public institutions its time to change those institutions. If Olmert truly loved his country, he would not pass go, not collect his 200 dollars, he would resign immediately. But with Ehud the Combover, it is not about his country it is about himself.