Survey: Israelis distrust government, Jewish Israelis distrust Arabs

TEL AVIV (JTA) – Israelis don’t trust their government, while many Jewish Israelis don’t trust Arab Israelis, according to a far-ranging annual survey.

The annual Israel Democracy Index, released Tuesday by the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) think tank, found that little more than one-third of Israelis trust their government, or the Knesset. Less than 20 per cent trust Israel’s political parties. More than three-quarters, or 77.7 per cent, of Israelis “feel unable to truly influence government policy,” and 54.4 per cent say Israeli lawmakers do not work hard enough.

Jewish Israelis reported high levels of trust in President Reuven Rivlin and in the Israel Defense Forces, while Arab Israelis said they trusted Israel’s health and welfare systems, and the Supreme Court. And while they distrust their government, almost three-quarters of Israelis, or 74 per cent, called their personal situation “good” or “very good.”

The survey results “highlight the continued deterioration of the public stake in government institutions, which displays a worrisome pattern of a growing disconnect between the establishment and the public,” IDI President Yohanan Plesner said in a statement.

The survey also found what Plesner called a “deepening divide between Israel’s Jewish and Arab citizens.” A majority of Israelis, or 59.3 per cent, say Arabs are discriminated against.

More than one-third of Jews, at 36 per cent,  said they wouldn’t want to live next to an Arab family, while nearly half, or 48.5 per cent, said they wouldn’t want to live next to foreign workers. More than 40 per cent of Arabs said they would not want to live next to haredi Orthodox Jews, though only 11 per cent said they would be bothered by Jewish neighbours of any kind.

Jews also don’t want Arabs influencing state policy. Nearly three-quarters, or 73.6 per cent, of Jewish Israelis said decisions on national security should require a Jewish majority. Some 53.6 per cent of Jews said social and economic decisions should be decided by a Jewish majority, and 56.6 per cent said that Israel’s government shouldn’t include Arab parties or ministers. More than 40 per cent of Jewish Israelis believe that Arab Israelis support the state’s destruction.

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