The majority of the public believes Israel's
law enforcement authorities did the right thing when they arrested Rabbi Dov Lior
for the endorsement of a book allegedly justifying the killing of non-Jews, according to a survey ordered by Ynet and the Gesher association.
The public's overall opinion is that no one should be immune from similar investigations, both rabbis and intellectuals.
The survey was conducted by the Panels research institute among 501 respondents – a representative sample of the adult Jewish population in Israel (maximal sampling error: 4.4%).
The first question, "Do you think it was right to arrest Rabbi Dov Lior," received a positive response from 62% of the respondents, 26% said "No", and 12% said they were not sufficiently familiar with the incident to express an opinion.
An analysis according to religious affiliation reveals a huge difference between the different groups: Ninety-four percent of haredim and 80% of religious Jews believe the arrest was wrong, while 77% of seculars and 57% of religious Jews support it.
In this context, the respondents were asked whether rabbis and prominent intellectuals – writers, poets and academics – should be given immunity.
Eighty-three percent of the respondents ruled out the idea in principle, without making a distinction between the two groups. Thirteen percent support exclusive immunity for rabbis, 2% said it should only be enjoyed by intellectuals who are not rabbis, and the remaining 2% said both groups should be entitled to immunity.
A majority supporting immunity for rabbis (and not other intellectuals) was found exclusively in the haredi public. Fifty-seven percent of religious Jews, 79% of traditional Jews and 91% of seculars are strongly against it.
In light of claims in the right-wing and religious public of selective enforcement which discriminates against rabbis in terms of the offenses Rabbi Lior was questioned about, the respondents were asked who they believe is treated with more forgiveness by the police and State Prosecutor's Office.
Thirty-one percent chose the rabbis, 25% - politicians, and 20% - academics. On the other hand, 24% believe that in Israel "everyone is equal before the law".
Sixty-nine percent of haredim and 67% of religious Jews are convinced that academics are treated mercifully by the law enforcement elements, while 40% of seculars claim that the rabbis receive the same treatment (the most common response).
"Although religious and secular Jews agree that no one is immune before the law, there is a huge difference in their perception of quality by the law enforcement authorities," said Gesher Director Ilan Gal-Dor.
"Each side believes its 'people' are discriminated against. The religious feel that there is a sense of forgiveness towards academics, while the seculars think the authorities forgive rabbis.
"Everyone's national mission is to strengthen equality, and especially the citizens' sense of trust in the State's leadership. The heads of the police and State Prosecutor's Office must be responsive to the public's feelings and act wisely, and not just according to procedures."