In Wake of Raucous Rally, Vast Majority of Israelis Support Renewal of Social Protest

Sixty percent of those polled said last year's protest has brought no change; 16 percent said the situation worsened, while 15 percent said it improved.

A large majority of Israelis - 69 percent - supports the renewed social-justice protests, but Israelis are about evenly split over who was responsible for the violence that characterized Saturday night's rally in Tel Aviv, according to a Haaretz-Dialog poll conducted on Monday.

The proportion of respondents who said there has been no improvement in social justice since last summer's protests was, at 67 percent, about the same as those who support this year's demonstrations. Sixteen percent said the situation has deteriorated in the past year, but 15 percent said it has improved in that time.

The poll, conducted under the supervision of statistics professor and pollster Camil Fuchs, found that 27 percent of the 508 respondents, all of them Jewish, said the police were the only ones at fault in Saturday's rally. There have been several amateur videos posted online that appear to show police officers using excessive force against protesters.

Twenty-one percent blamed the protesters for the violence, and 29 percent said police and protesters were both at fault.

Respondents were split along demographic lines in their responses to this question, with most of those who described themselves as secular blaming police for the violence and most ultra-Orthodox Jews and Russian-speaking respondents blaming the protesters as well as the police.

Each question in the poll has a 4.2 percent margin of error.

Most of the respondents (61 percent ) oppose the smashing of bank windows that was part of the weekend demonstration, the poll found. But nearly a quarter (23 percent ) said they agreed with the statement "It's too bad, but sometimes there's no choice and it happens."

A smaller minority (9 percent ) fully supported the property damage "as part of the protest."

Though some have characterized the protests as a movement that is for and by left-wing, secular Tel Avivians, the poll told a different story. Though the Jewish demographic group that expressed the highest level of support for the protest is secular Israelis (79 percent ), a majority of ultra-Orthodox (57 percent ) and Orthodox (53 percent ) Israelis also expressed their support.

A rally was held on Monday in front of Tel Aviv city hall, and demonstrators plan to return on Tuesday to protest the violence on the part of police officers and municipal inspectors during the weekend rally. No violent incidents were reported during Monday's rally.

Social justice protests -- June 23, 2012
Moti Milrod
Social protest demonstrators near Habima Square in Tel Aviv
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Social protests of June 23, 2012
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