Although many Israelis carried out charitable deeds to help their compatriots during the COVID-19 pandemic, in which over 6,200 lost their lives, the events – combined with the political chaos – unfortunately did not increase the feeling of cohesion and unity in the country.
The Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI) has just published its annual Pluralism Index on the even of the state’s 73th anniversary of independence.
The survey results showed that both the so-far-fruitless election campaigns and aftermaths and the pandemic have had a negative impact on Israeli cohesion. “The data paints a complex picture regarding the feeling of Israeli cohesion within the various sectors of Israeli society, and of course between sectors,” said Prof. Yedidia Stern, president of the JPPI. “The main finding is that according to the public’s preferences, it is possible to reach agreements on some of the biggest issues of contention, but it is precisely politics – which is supposed to be the field in which agreements are reached – that makes it difficult to implement the agreements.”
A substantial majority of Israelis view the behavior of the ultra-Orthodox (haredi) sector and, to a lesser degree, the Arab sector, as a blow to Israeli unity because for months, some flouted national guidelines on social distancing, wearing facemasks and getting vaccinated. Seventy-five percent of Israelis said they were “angry” with the ultra-Orthodox because of their conduct as a group in the coronavirus. More than a third of Israelis (37%) said they felt “hatred” for the haredi sector because of their conduct during pandemic A minority (13%) said they agreed with the assertion that “I feel hatred for the ultra-Orthodox,” while another 25% said they “somewhat agree” with this statement.
As widespread vaccination among all sectors, including the ultra-Orthodox, has increased in recent months, the rate of infection has dropped significantly, along with the need for many fewer restrictions.
A slight majority of Jews and Arabs agree that “all Israeli citizens, Jews and Arabs, have a shared future.” In addition, a majority of Israeli Jews agree that “All Jews, in Israel and the Diaspora, have a shared future.”
Israel’s Jewish population is divided over whether Israel should be “less Jewish,” “more Jewish,” or “as it is today,” according to the JPPI survey. There is a strong consensus among Jews that the Jewish state should have a Jewish majority and encourage Jewish creative activity. Only a tiny minority of Jews in Israel (1%) would prefer that Israel cease to be a Jewish state.
Arabs said they would overwhelmingly prefer that Israel be a “state of all its citizens,” with no religious or national particularities. A substantial majority of both Arabs and Jews said they wanted Israel to be “more democratic.” A substantial majority of Arab Israelis do not regard Israel as a democracy. There is a near-total consensus among Jews and Arabs that a democratic state should safeguard human rights and not discriminate against minorities.
According to Shmuel Rosner, editor of the Pluralism Index: There is a broad consensus among Jews and non-Jews that human rights should be protected, that discrimination should be avoided and that an independent justice system is a condition of a democratic state. A slim majority of Israelis (54%) supported the Supreme Court’s ability to overturn laws passed by the Knesset, while just under half of them (46%) opposed this ability. Among Arab Israelis, 81% support the ability of the Supreme Court to overturn laws that the Knesset has passed.
The JPPI is an independent policy planning think tank whose mission is to ensure the thriving of the Jewish people and the Jewish civilization by engaging in professional strategic thinking and action-oriented policy planning on issues of primary concern to world Jewry.