Survey: Most Israeli Jews Want Voting Rights Conditioned on Allegiance Pledge

Asked which part of the state's self-definition as "Jewish and democratic" is more important to them, 43 percent of Israelis said both were equally important, 31 percent chose "Jewish" and 20 percent chose "democratic."

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman must be pleased: Fully 54 percent of Israelis say the right to vote should be conditioned on a pledge of allegiance to Israel as a democratic, Jewish and Zionist state, according to the Israel Democracy Institute's annual Democracy Index survey.

Among Jewish Israelis, the rate rises to 62 percent.

Asked which part of the state's self-definition as "Jewish and democratic" is more important to them, 43 percent of Israelis said both were equally important, 31 percent chose "Jewish" and 20 percent chose "democratic." The breakdown among Jews was similar: 48, 32 and 17 percent, respectively.

Some 46 percent of Jewish Israelis said it would bother them to have an Arab neighbor, while 38 percent said so for foreign workers and people with mental health problems. Among Arabs, 70 percent said it would bother them to have a gay neighbor and 67 percent said so for ultra-Orthodox.

Fully 62 percent of Jewish Israelis said that until the Israel-Palestinian conflict ends, the views of Israeli Arabs should not be taken into account on foreign affairs and defense issues. Prof. Tamar Hermann of IDI said she found this result "horrific. That's ostracism of a kind no democracy can accept. These are citizens - not foreigners."

Plus, 33 percent of Jews said that in the event of war or any other severe crisis, Israel should treat its Arab citizens the way America treated its Japanese citizens during World War II - by putting them in internment camps. "They are perceived as a fifth column," Hermann said.

She said the findings show that from a democratic perspective, the most problematic rift in the country is the Jewish-Arab divide.

"Today, people say things they would once have been embarrassed to say," she added.

Some 55 percent of Jews said it is legitimate for the government to allocate more funding to Jewish towns than to Arab ones, while 70 percent opposed appointing more Arabs to senior civil service positions and 67 percent opposed having In addition, 67 percent opposed allowing first-degree relatives of Israeli Arabs to immigrate for the sake of family unification.

Israelis perceive the Israel Defense Forces as the most trustworthy state institution, with 81 percent saying they had faith in it, up from 79 percent last year and 71 percent two years ago. Moreover, 50 percent of all respondents agreed with the statement that human rights organizations "damage the country."

Trust in politicians remains low, but is rising: 39 percent said they had faith in politicians, up from 35 percent last year and 17 percent two years ago. Only 25 percent said they trust political parties, but 37 percent trust the Knesset and 33 percent trust the cabinet.

President Shimon Peres should also be pleased: Fully 70 percent of Israelis trust the president, up from only 22 percent under his predecessor, Moshe Katsav. And opposition leader MK Tzipi Livni can take comfort from the fact that only 32 percent think men make better political leaders than women.

As for the Supreme Court, the shoe thrown at its president, Dorit Beinisch, earlier this year seems to have accurately reflected the opinion of many Israelis: Only 54 percent said they trust the court (though that is up slightly from 52 percent last year ), while 45 percent said it is politically biased and its powers should therefore be limited.

Exactly half of all respondents expressed faith in the prosecution, up from 47 percent last year, and 42 percent said they trust the police, up from 40 percent last year.

But many readers may want to take all the above figures with a grain of salt. After all, only 34 percent of Israelis said they trust the media.