(JNS.org) Gesher, an organization dedicated to creating programs unifying different communities in Israel under one identity, has released a new survey measuring attitudes about unity in the Jewish state.
The "Israel Unity Index" was commissioned as part of the inaugural Jerusalem Unity Prize, which was recently awarded in memory of Jewish teenagers Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar, and Naftali Frenkel, who were kidnapped and murdered by Hamas terrorists during the summer of 2014. The annual prize's stated mission is “to perpetuate the spirit of unity which existed across Israel and around the world during the days following the boys’ kidnapping.”
The survey—conducted by the Zofnat Research Institute—gathered data from 511 Israelis over the phone and online, and was made possible with the support of the UJA Federation of New York. Forty-six percent of respondents agreed that "disunity" is a significant social problem that they think about frequently. There survey also illustrated a relationship between concerns over disunity and the level of respondents’ religious observance. Fifty-three percent of secular and traditional Jewish respondents expressed concern about disunity in Israeli society, compared with 40 percent of "religious" survey participants or 27 percent of haredi respondents.
Eighty-one percent of respondents agreed with the statement, “I fully respect Jews from all aspects of society, even when I don’t agree with them.” Among that group, 78 percent expressed support for national education programs that would allow the religious and secular elements of Israeli society to intermingle. Additionally, the survey revealed that 53 percent of haredim have little-to-no interaction with members of other Israeli communities.
“This index is an important indicator that we have a great deal to accomplish in building a better society but that there is also considerable cause for optimism. Most fundamentally it reveals that there is a high level of misunderstanding of the other and if overcome then we can enhance unity within our society,” Ilan Gael Dor, the executive director of Gesher, said in a statement.
“The tragedy of the three boys revealed that even while our society is often viewed as fractured and in need of repair—a reality corroborated by this study—solutions do exist to address this problem,” said Uri Yifrach, father of the murdered teen Eyal. “The challenge, and one which we can and must confront, is to implement those solutions in all times and not just when we’re being faced with tragedy or attacks.”