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+972 poll: Israelis reject the status quo, fear int'l isolation

Over 70 percent of Israelis are worried about international isolation. Half believe settlements strengthen Israeli security and over half support a breakthrough vision for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – roughly the same rate of support for the traditional two-state paradigm. But one-quarter support an apartheid vision for the future. Half the population supports anchoring Jewish identity in law – but over half either oppose doing so or have no opinion. Fully three-quarters support President Rivlin’s conciliatory approach and criticism of the government.

The contradictions and convictions of Israelis at the end of 2014, and the beginning of the election cycle, in a special +972 Magazine poll. Information about the poll is found at the end.

The conflict: Status quo out, apartheid up, new paradigms in?

+972 Magazine’s survey indicates a sea change in consciousness inside Israel, and a dawning realization that things cannot go on as they are. Ninety percent of the respondents reject the option of continuing the status quo on the conflict.

Roughly since the construction of the separation barrier in the mid-2000s, the notion of a sustainable status quo settled into mainstream Israeli thinking and has held for nearly a decade. Resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was low on the list of priorities in Israeli survey research.

Since the outbreak of Operation Protective Edge, I have often been asked whether the war would shatter support for the status quo. Until now, there has been no consistent empirical evidence that it has.

We asked people about their preferred general vision for the future of the conflict and gave four options: “Thinking about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which of the following options do you prefer?”


We now know that 90 percent of Israeli respondents favor something other than the status quo. But in the next graph, this data can also be compared to the polls marked * which were conducted by the organization Blue and White Future with an identical sample for the Jewish respondents and very similar question wording. Note the major changes:

 • Support for a status quo is falling steadily – a process that actually happened between 2012 and 2013; our current survey confirms a real trend.

• Support for a two-state solution remains completely unchanged.

• There is no statistical change in support for an equal one-state solution.

• Instead, there is significantly rising support for one, unequal state. Perhaps if the word “apartheid” had been added, political correctness would dampen the numbers, but this reflects a real trend.


New options?

The worrying rise in support for an unjust situation of permanent inequality is offset by a particularly interesting set of questions we asked, together with the Israel-Palestine Creative Regional Initiatives (IPCRI). For over a year, IPCRI has led a series of working groups looking at a confederate-style model known as “two states, one space.” (Proper disclosure – I am on the steering committee of this initiative as part of my search for alternatives given that circumstances are less and less conducive to the two-state solution.)

The initiative attempts to break through some conundrums such as Palestinian right of return (which Jewish Israelis reject), and a continued settler presence in the West Bank (which Palestinians reject). It is new and different and probably controversial.

The findings were surprising on various levels, in terms of which pieces were acceptable and levels of support for the general vision. These will be the subject of a separate and detailed post in a few days. Keep your eyes on this spot.

Settlements are not security

There is a range of polling testing whether Israelis support expanding or dismantling or freezing settlements and where. A few weeks ago, a poll I conducted for J Street found a 52-percent majority opposed to settlement expansion.

But the government regularly argues that settlements are a matter of security, and justifies financial support based on security. The theme seeps into the public discourse.

Do Israelis believe that settlements contribute to the security of the state? Or does anyone feel they may be a security liability? We asked: “Do you think settlements strengthen or harm Israel’s security?

The Israeli public is divided clean in half – 45 percent for “strengthens” to 46 percent for “harms” – a statistical tie.

 • The Jewish population shows a plurality that views settlements as adding to state security: 49 percent say they strengthen security, but a close 41 percent say settlements harm security.

• Not surprisingly, a clear majority of the Arab respondents say settlements harm Israeli security.

• The ideological splits are dramatic: Among the Right, fully three-quarters believe settlements strengthen security, although 15 percent say they weaken it. Among the center, a clear 55-percent majority says they weaken security.

This pattern shows the long established observation that the center is much more like the Left than the Right, and substantial majorities of centrists think like the Left.

But another interesting finding is that the normal split in political attitudes based on level of religious observance among the Jewish population is particularly dramatic. Religious (not ultra-Orthodox) and traditional groups – together, a bit less than  one-third of all Israelis – are in fact the only ones who show strong support for this belief. That’s another example of the minority determining policy for the majority who are opposed to it.



Jewish identity and the Nation-State Law: Mainly cultural

Although the Jewish Nation-State law is frozen for the moment and it is unclear what its fate will be after the election, the debate over the law exposed deep fissures within Israeli and Jewish society in Israel. It drove a wedge between center from the Right and precipitated the collapse of the government. The survey shows division and some confusion among the public as well.

We asked: Do you think that Jewish identity needs to be anchored into a Basic law in Israel, as recently discussed? This question was asked only of Jews instead of asking Arabs a question with a predictable response.

Nearly half of the Jewish respondents, 48 percent, felt Jewish identity ought to be formally enshrined in Israeli law.

However, 38 percent said it did not need to be made into a law, and another 14 percent didn’t know. That’s actually a very slight majority – 52 percent – who do not obviously support the law.

Further, among those who support it, we asked what the main reason was, and gave three options. The clear plurality (43 percent) said the law was important mainly to protect Jewish cultural heritage from assimilation. Interestingly, even those who don’t support the law thought that if they had to choose one reason to support it, about 20 percent cited the need to ensure Israel remains a safe haven for world Jewry, higher than among those who support the law.


International Isolation

In recent months it is a rare day without a headline discussing Israel’s worsening situation vis-à-vis the international community. Other surveys of mine show that over 60 percent of Israelis believe the U.S.-Israel relationship is in a crisis, and over 60 percent blame the prime minister for making those relationships worse.

During the week of this survey, Palestinians submitted a bid to the UN Security Council to set a date for ending the occupation and the EU Parliament voted to recognize a Palestinian state. In recent weeks, individual European parliaments have voted similarly and Sweden’s government actually recognized Palestine.

But how much do Israelis care?

We asked: When you think about the negative attitudes toward Israel in Europe and the crisis in relations with the U.S., are you worried about international isolation, or not worried?

A strong majority, more than two to one, are worried: 30 percent are very worried, and a total of 71 percent say they are worried; 29 percent say they are not.

• Jews are significantly more concerned than Arabs – fully three-quarters (76%) say they are worried. Arabs are split more evenly.

• The self-defined center and the left are very similar – approximately 80 percent are worried.

• The high overall total stretches to the right as well: nearly two-thirds of self-identified right-wingers say they are worried (63 percent).

• By political breakdown, even 50 percent of Likud voters are worried. Fully 90 percent of Labor/Hatnua voters say they are worried.

The government, the president and two different countries

Judging by legislation, bills, wars and incitement, the current government rivals only the previous Netanyahu government as the most extreme right-wing leadership in Israel’s history. But most of Israeli society doesn’t think so: When asked, “how would you characterize this government,” and offered choices from far right to far left, just one-quarter (23 percent) view the government as extreme right, and only 14 percent among Jews.

• Among Arabs, 69 percent feel the government is extreme right and 81 percent say it is right wing in general.

• Among the center and Left, 79 percent and 94 percent, respectively, say the government is right wing in general.

Fifty-five percent of the Left believes the government to be extreme right, but only 37 percent of potential Labor/Hatnua voters think so.


Still, it is safe to assume that the wide portions of the center and Left who characterize the government as right wing in general are not happy about it, and this, along with anger against the government for general incompetence, is driving the sense of change in the air as elections approach.

Although only one-quarter feel the government is actually extremist, a strong portion support the conciliatory approach that President Reuven Rivlin has come to symbolize.

We asked: “Lately, President Reuven Rivlin has focused on bringing Jews and Arabs closer together. He has acknowledged the travesties against Arabs in the past and has spoken out against those who incite among Jews and Arabs, including criticizing the government. In general, do you support or oppose the President’s position?

• Not only do 85 percent of Arabs – essentially a consensus – support his position, but also a healthy 60-percent majority of Jews.

• However, the Jewish result hides a deep division: among the Right, just over one-third supports this position and fully 64 percent oppose the president’s attempts at conciliation between the various populations of Israel.

• On the other hand, the 35 percent of the Right who support the president indicates that there remains a core of pragmatic right-wingers committed to a more balanced approach in Israeli society.

The president’s approach comes none too soon. A single question highlights the reality of two parallel Israels:

We wondered about the daily experience of discrimination in Israel. It turns out that nearly 40 percent of Israelis feel they experience discrimination. The internal differences show a sobering finding: over three-quarters of Arab respondents feel discrimination in everyday life. Nearly 30 percent of Jews do as well.

There are complex attitudes that characterize those who experience discrimination – these too will be the subject of future posts.


From the data, Israeli society is gathering itself into two fundamentally different camps. Overall, there is a grand rift between those who seek a deeper commitment to democracy, equality and navigating away from further conflict escalation through new solutions. The chasm between secular and religious worldviews create an ever-widening gap between left and center as a unit, and the Right, although there continues to be a distinction between pragmatic and far right. While the vision of the center and left camp might be coalescing as the opposition parties show their messages, it is not clear how far the polarization may yet go.

A second axis is the completely different experience and worldview held by Arabs compared to Jews. Israel has not managed to create an overall civic identity or include its Arab citizens in the common national experience.

Click to read more poll results on Arab citizens of Israel

To paraphrase Massimo d’Azeglio, we have created Israel – that is indisputable. But there is a very long way to go before we can say we have created a family that includes all Israelis.

Survey Information:

The survey was designed and analyzed by Dahlia Scheindlin, and data collection was conducted by New Wave Research. The research included a representative sample of 600 adults, Jews and Arabs, who were interviewed in Hebrew and in Arabic. The interviews were conducted through both Internet and phone, from December 11-17. The margin of error is +/-4%, higher for each sub-sample. See the raw data in Hebrew here.

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    1. Adir Bar Yohanan


      Can I get to see the raw data? The questionnaire sheets and methodological notes?



      Reply to Comment
    2. Brian Cohen

      Let’s see the poll about Palestinian apartheid. I think +972 is afraid to ask the question, because they’ll discover that the vast majority of Palestinians support Palestinian Apartheid. In fact, with no Jews living there or allowed to live there, Palestine already is an apartheid pre-state.

      Reply to Comment
      • Pedro X

        And what are the Palestinians telling their pollsters?

        Palestinian Public Opinion Poll No (54) 9 December 2014 of 1270 Palestinians interviewed face to face in 127 randomly selected locations.

        – An overwhelming majority (86%) believes that al Haram al Sharif is in grave danger: 56% believe that Israel intends to destroy al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock and replace them with a Jewish temple;
        (this belief of course has been nurtured and supported by the PA which has called for resistance by any means)

        – Hamas can easily win a new presidential election if one is held today. Hamas can also do better than Fatah in a new
        parliamentary election. Most Palestinians continue to believe that Hamas won the war. Today, an overwhelming majority of Palestinians continues to support launching of rockets from the Gaza Strip if the blockade is not
        lifted. Positive evaluation of conditions in the Gaza Strip stands at 10%. Findings show that the percentage of Gazans who say they seek immigration to other countries stands at 43%. (These last two findings are surely surprising if Palestinians think they had won the war.)

        – Findings also show that the level of support for a return to an armed
        intifada remains high; indeed support for armed struggle has increased (just as Hamas leaders and some Fatah leaders call for day in and day out)

        – 56% support return to an armed intifada

        – A majority of 79% favors Hamas way of resisting occupation;

        – an overwhelming majority of 77% supports the launching of rockets from the Gaza Strip at Israel if the siege and blockade are not

        – 62% favor the transfer of Hamas’
        armed approach to the West Bank

        – the overwhelming majority tends to support those acts of violence, such as knifing and run-over, that have become lately more frequent in Jerusalem.

        – 80% support and 20% oppose attempts by individual
        Palestinians to stab or run over Israelis in Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank.

        – 42% believe that armed confrontation is the most effective means to end occupation; 26% believe negotiation is the best means

        – only 9% believe that the first and most vital goal should be to establish a democratic political system that respects freedoms and rights of Palestinians.

        – 31% believe the first most vital goal should be to obtain the right of return of refugees to their 1948 towns and villages [ ie to end the Israeli state]

        – 43% believe that the first most vital Palestinian goal should be to end Israeli occupation in the areas occupied in 1967 and build a Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem as its capital.

        Nothing in this PSR poll shows any Palestinian inclination to make peace with Israel much less make concessions necessary to reach a peace agreement.

        Reply to Comment
    3. Bruce Gould

      Drats – it’s the building permit issue again! Israelis raze Palestinian factory – https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/15971-israeli-troops-raze-palestinian-factory-near-ramallah – what IS it about Palestinians and building permits? Is it just that the permits cost a lot of money and they don’t refund it if a permit isn’t given? Or maybe it’s that the permit-granting committees favor one ethnic group over another? Or maybe the Palestinians are now required to fill out the forms in Afrikaans, a language they don;t know?

      Reply to Comment
      • Pedro X

        Justus Weiner destroyed this argument back in 2003 in his report on “Illegal construction in Jerusalem.” More recently Camera showed that as much as 90% of Palestinian Arab applications for building permits had been approved in Jerusalem. Approval rates of Jewish construction is similar to that of Palestinian Arabs. the difference is that most Israelis make application for building permits before building, while Palestinian Arabs do not.

        As in other countries its costs money to apply for permits and one has to pay for hookups for water and sewer hookups for municipal services. There also may be dedication and infrastructure (improvement) taxes to be paid. Further one has to obey building plans, electrical, plumbing and building codes which mean that the building plans and construction will be overseen by building inspectors. Much of illegal Palestinian building fails to meet planning, zoning, and building codes.

        What both reports showed is that Palestinians overwhelming choose not to apply for permits and have been encouraged by the PA not to do so.

        Reply to Comment
        • Felix Reichert

          Source please. The numbers are probably false, but I’d love to be proven wrong.

          I’M guessing, if approval rates for buildings of Jewish Jerusalmites are equal to the one of Palestinians, then 95% of Jewish applications are denied?

          Because 95% of Palestinian applications are denied.

          Note that this is completely in line with Israeli policy in Area C, where 94% are denied.

          Want to whitewash that number as well?

          Reply to Comment
    4. Richard

      Though we have troubling times with wars seemingly everywhere, the threat of pandemic disease, earth quakes and other perilous issues you can take some comfort in the good things that God has done and promises he has kept. Though our timing is not the same as God’s timing and our understanding is not often clear on what God has done, we can rest in the knowledge that God is working out his plans. You can especially be comforted in that God has provided his redeemer and that soon He will be returning for those who have believed in him and have accepted his gift of forgiveness of their sins. Above I mentioned the troubling times we are living in today. Prophecy foretold of these exact signs all occurring in the same time frame together. Working like birth pangs. I believe we are seeing these today. This is the first time in history where man kind fits these prophecies exactly and it’s also the first time that the prophecy that Israel would be back as a nation. I wrote a small book about the end times and prophecy and the tribulation period. It’s just for your information and consideration and it’s free. I don’t even accept donations on my or anyone else’s behalf. It’s a short read of about 7 pages. I encourage you to take a look. http://www.booksie.com/religion_and_spirituality/book/richard_b_barnes/after-the-rapture-whats-next

      Reply to Comment
    5. Ginger Eis

      Basis Equation: status quo within status quo

      This is not news, Ms. Scheindlin, and I am flabbergasted that you have to conduct a poll to discover the obvious and the self-evident. Of course no one, likes the status-quo, at least not the vast majority of Israelis (this is “status quo 1”). HOWEVER, both sides (Israelis and Palestinian Arabs) cannot agree to any alternative to the status quo (this is “status quo 2”). Thus, we are stuck with- and in the status-quo as the best POSSIBLE alternative to something else (this is “status quo 3”).

      It would be appreciated if you factor Palestinian Arabs in your polls. Israelis do not hold all the cards and pretending otherwise seriously diminishes the scientific and academic quality of your work ?

      Reply to Comment
    6. Dan

      Surveys properly done only capture the current opinions of the public. However, ‘current opinion is highly malleable.

      When Bush wanted to invade Iraq, his administration began a huge propaganda campaign which ultimately got enough public opinion to support it.

      In short, as Chomsky and others have shown repeatedly, governments can alter public opinion sufficiently. A right wing government in Israel has managed to get the public to believe it.

      Similarly, if Israel ever produces a government that is serious about peace and its price, it will have the ability to ‘change’ public opinion.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Ginger Eis

      Basis Equation: status quo within status quo

      This is not news, Ms. Scheindlin, and I am flabbergasted that you have to conduct a poll to discover that which is self-evident. Of course no one, likes the status-quo, at least not the vast majority of Israelis (this is “status quo 1”). HOWEVER, both sides (Israelis and Palestinian Arabs) cannot agree to any alternative to the status quo (this is “status quo 2”). Thus we are stuck with- and in the current status-quo as the best POSSIBLE alternative to something else (this is “status quo 3”).

      What is also missing is a poll of Palestinian Arabs living in Judea & Samaria. Israelis do not hold all the cards and pretending otherwise seriously diminishes the scientific and academic quality of the crux of the article.

      Reply to Comment