(December 3, 2018 / JNS) Currently, the top conflict in Israel is between the political left and right, with the conflict between Jews and Arabs somewhat lessening, as has been the case for the past 16 years, according to 32 percent of respondents in an annual poll.
The Arab-Jewish conflict as the main source of tension in Israel dropped to second in the Israel Democracy Index, released on Monday.
However, the poll, incorporating 1,041 respondents aged 18 and older, was administered in May, before months of weekly protests at the Gaza-Israel border that resulted in arson fires that have caused great damage to farms, fields and wildlife in Israel’s south.
According to the survey, 67 percent of Jews and Arabs believe that Israeli-Arabs want to be part of the Jewish state, while 46 percent of Israelis believe that democracy in Israel faces grave threats.
“Unfortunately, the index shows clearly that there is a deepening polarization between left and right in Israel, the result of several negative campaigns that we have seen here in recent years,” said Israeli President Reuven Rivlin. “Those words, used so cynically to play on our feelings and our identities, have only made the gap greater and accentuated the lack of trust between the citizen and the system.”
“It is a system,” he continued, “that offers us ideological package deals, and that tells us who and what is broken, instead of how to make things better.”
Additionally, 56 percent of Israelis oppose the notion of nullifying the Supreme Court’s authority to strike down laws enacted by the Knesset. At the same time, 79 percent of Israelis see their influence on policy as minimal or nonexistent.
“The Israeli public takes seriously what happens in this country,” said Rivlin. “The public is involved, is informed, and most importantly, goes and votes.”
Rivlin also said “it seems that politics, and sometimes the media, too, work overtime to hide the everyday, regular story that Arabs and Jews work together, right next to each other, in the biggest Israeli companies, in hospitals, in government ministries. The same reality in which neighboring communities, Jewish and Arab, have good relations and work together on economic and cultural endeavors.”
The Israel Democracy Index is conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute’s Guttman Center for Public Opinion and Policy Research.