A new survey by the Jewish People’s Policy Institute (JPPI) shows that a large majority of the public wants to see a compromise in the conflict over the judicial reforms. According to the survey, which was conducted during the weekend from March 24-26, 53% of the respondents (Israeli Jews) defined themselves as “opposed to the reform” and 47% supported the reform. In addition, a majority of the Jewish public believed that the government should stop the legislation and enter into negotiations with the opposition (48%) or accept a compromise along the lines of President Isaac Herzog’s outline (11%). As can be expected, a very large majority of the opponents of the judicial reform (98%) supported a compromise, compared to a minority of those who support reforms (19%). About half of the supporters of the reforms believed that all of them should continue to be legislated without delay, while about a quarter supported the promotion of the ‘Rothman outline’ for electing judges [an outline that was toned down by the coalition] immediately, and postponing the rest of the reforms legislations until the summer.
JPPI’s survey was conducted amongst approximately 1,300 Israeli Jews. It was analyzed by Prof. Camil Fuchs. JPPI stressed that the findings were collected before the dismissal of Defense Minister Yoav Galant.
After analyzing the survey, it is clear that a large majority of the Jewish-Israeli public is willing to accept certain compromises, although not in many of the suggested reforms. About 40% of the opponents and supporters of the reforms refuse any sort of compromise.
The main clauses that some of the opponents of the reform are willing to compromise on are “disqualification of laws only by a large majority of judges” (43%) and “elimination of the reasonableness clause” (23%). The clauses that some of the supporters of the reform are ready to give up are the “override clause,” (35%) and the “appointment of legal advisers on behalf of the ministers” (21%).
Among the supporters of the reforms, many measures of demonstration are considered illegitimate: 77% of the judicial reform supporters are opposed to blocking major roads; 58% are against transferring investments abroad; 73% are against interfering with government representatives speeches during Memorial Day ceremonies; 90% are against “dodging reserve service if the amendment to the law on electing judges passes in the Knesset.” The only section that most of the opponents of the reform also consider illegitimate is “calling on foreign countries to damage relations with Israel” (54%). In addition, only about a quarter of those opposed to the reforms think that dodging from IDF reserve service is illegitimate (24%). Only 16% of the opponents of the judicial reforms oppose the transfer of investments abroad.
Most respondents say that the crisis makes them want to “fight for Israel’s image” or to be optimistic about Israel’s future. However, among the opponents of the reform, there is an almost identical proportion of fighters/optimists and of those who say that the crisis makes them “despair of what is expected of Israel” (46%).
In addition, according to another JPPI study, the vast majority of all Israelis want Israel to be a democratic State, according to the ninth annual JPPI Pluralism Index.
The JPPI research focused on identifying areas of consensus and controversy within Israel’s complex and diverse society during a time of roiling dispute over the government’s plan to institute a comprehensive reform of the system of checks and balances regulating relations between Israel’s legislative and judicial branches of government.
“There is no denying the depth of the Israeli controversy, which threatens the cohesion and resilience of Israeli society and the state itself,” Yedidia Stern, president of JPPI said on Tuesday, March 28.
Democratic, Jewish or Both?
He continued by explaining that “this is reflected in the image the political camps have of each other.” According to Stern, right-wing voters believe that the center-left considers it less important for Israel to be Jewish. But he shared that “they are wrong,” since 90% of center-left voters want a Jewish state, according to the index. At the same time, left-wing voters believe that the right considers it less important to have a democratic state. “They too are wrong,” Stern emphasized, explaining that “94% of right-wing supporters want a democratic state.”
Stern said that “the Pluralism Index reveals that our extreme image of each other is incorrect. The facts are that a large majority wants Israel to be both a Jewish state (with a total support of 66%) and a democratic state (88%). This is encouraging news ahead of the 75th anniversary of our independence.”
Other key findings in the 2023 index include the fact that there is strong support for Israel as a Jewish state, with significantly lower support among secular Israelis. In all population groups, a majority say that a democratic state means both freedom and human rights.
There is a continuing overall decline in the degree to which those living in Israel feel comfortable in the country – this year among the secular, those on the left and Arabs. According to the index, there has been a clear decline in the comfort level of centrist and left leaning Israelis and a contrasting rise (more moderate) in the comfort level of right-leaning Israelis. Arab Israelis exhibited some decline in their comfort level and a rise in their sense of discomfort compared with last year.
Forty nine percent of left wing Jews in Israel feel uncomfortable being themselves in 2023 as opposed to only 33% in 2022. On the other side of the political map, only 13% of right-wing Israelis feel uncomfortable being themselves in Israel in 2023 as opposed to 20% in 2022.
Nearly half of Arab Israelis (44%) support Israel as a Jewish state, or say they “don’t care” if Israel is or is not a Jewish state. The share of Arabs who do not oppose Israel as a Jewish state is essentially the same as the share of Arabs who say they prefer that Israel not be a Jewish state, or who oppose Israel being a Jewish state (46%). This finding supports other studies that have assessed the extent of Arab-Israeli agreement with Israel being defined as a Jewish state. Most Arabs agreed with the statement “If there were a referendum regarding a constitution that defines Israel as a Jewish and democratic state and guarantees Arabs full civil rights, I would support it.”
By Zvika Klein/Jpost.com