Poll: Many Olim Unsure Whether Their Future Lies in Israel

Only 28 percent of immigrants from the former Soviet Union between the ages of 31 and 40 are certain they want to raise their children here, compared to 80 percent of native Israelis in that age group, according to the annual Israel Democracy Index, which the Israel Democracy Institute released yesterday.

However, the gap declines with age, the survey found. It attributed the gap mainly to the fact that the immigrants are heavily concentrated in the north and south, which have suffered both security threats and economic woes in recent years.

Most of this year's survey was devoted to the Russian-speaking immigrant community, as the big wave of Russian immigration began 20 years ago.

Though the immigrants are widely perceived as being fully integrated on the political level, the survey found that many express views that the researchers, led by Prof. Asher Arian, defined as typical of behavior under the Soviet regime and indicative of "poor political integration into the expanse of Israeli democracy." For instance, fully 77 percent - compared to 47 percent of native Israelis - favor encouraging Israeli Arabs to emigrate, while 74 percent want a "strong leader," compared to 61 percent of native Israelis.

Moreover, 33 percent view political violence as legitimate - less than the rate among Israeli Arabs (35 percent), but far higher than that among native Israeli Jews (23 percent). And almost half view corruption as an inevitable part of politics, compared to less than 40 percent of native Israeli Jews.

On the positive side, the survey found a rise in public faith in the institutions of government. Most noteworthy was the surge of faith in the presidency - from 22 percent in 2007 to 60 percent this year - after Shimon Peres replaced Moshe Katsav. Faith in the army and the Supreme Court also rose.

However, faith in the police plunged to a new low of 40 percent, one of the lowest rates of any democratic country. That puts Israel in 21st place among the 24 countries for which data was given, right between Romania and Taiwan.

The survey also confirmed that Israelis, especially the young, are losing interest in politics. Public faith in the political parties actually rose slightly, from 15 percent last year to 21 percent this year. But over the last six years, the study found, the number of young Israelis who say they are interested in politics has plummeted 18 percentage points, to a mere 50 percent this year. That may be related to the fact that only about half the public believes it has any ability to influence policy.

Among immigrants, unsurprisingly, the rate is even higher: Only 40 percent of immigrants believe they have any ability to have an influence, even over their own lives.