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Fully 52 percent of Israeli Jews would be willing to limit the media's freedom of expression if media reports damage the state's image, while 64 percent would accept limits on freedom of expression in the event of a threat to national security, a poll has found.

Similar percentages would accept limits on professors' academic freedom in those circumstances.

Asked whether current circumstances justify limiting freedom of expression, respondents were evenly divided: 35 percent said yes and 34 percent said no.

The poll found that 55 percent of Israeli Jews would accept limits on the right to oppose the government's defense policy, while only 28 percent would not. 26 percent favored restricting the right to oppose the government's foreign policy, while the figures for education, health and economic policy were 25, 18 and 16 percent, respectively. In contrast, 42 to 66 percent opposed restricting opposition to government policy in these fields.

Surprisingly, however, 73 percent of respondents termed freedom of expression "essential" to Israel, and 51 percent said the same of academic freedom.

The survey was conducted late last month by the Geocartography company for the Academic College of Tel Aviv-Jaffa, in advance of next week's convention of the Israel Sociological Society. It queried 500 men and women aged 18 and older, who constitute a representative sample of Israel's Jewish population. The margin of error is 4.4 percent.