Israeli Jews see country in decent shape, survey shows

TEL AVIV (JTA) – Four-fifths of Jewish Israelis believe the country’s overall situation is either “so-so” or “good,” according to a recent survey.

The 2013 Israeli Democracy Index released this week showed that 37 percent of respondents rated the situation in Israel as “good” and 43 percent called it “so-so.” Eighteen percent said it was “bad.”

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Nearly 40 percent of Israeli Arabs, however, saw the country’s situation as “bad,” with 28 percent rate calling it “good.”

The Israel Democracy Institute poll of 1,000 Israelis found that the respondents split on the importance of the state’s Jewish character vs. its democratic character:  one-third said the Jewish character was more important, one-third said being democratic was more important and one-third said both are important.

Tamar Hermann, the survey’s lead author, said the poll shows that increasing numbers of Israelis ascribe significance to the state’s Jewishness.

“Instead of focusing on citizenship and Israeliness, they find it easier and more convenient to focus more on their Jewishness,” Hermann told a conference call that included  journalists. “This doesn’t mean they’re becoming more Orthodox, but we see more secular people performing ceremonies like kiddush and other acts.”

In addition, 62 percent of Israelis feel that maintaining a Jewish majority in Israel is more important than keeping control of the West Bank. Twenty-two percent disagreed.

The survey, taken from April 8 to May 2, has a sampling error of plus or minus 3.2 percent.