Jewish or Israeli? (Illustration)
Photo: AP

Poll: Most Israelis see themselves as Jewish first, Israeli second

Israel Democracy Institute releases special survey probing Israelis' perception of identify, says 94% of Jewish population in Israel believe they are part of worldwide Jewish community

Sixty years after Israel was established as the Jewish state and the polemic is at its peak – are we Jewish first and Israeli second or vice versa?


An ongoing study preformed by the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI), published for the first time on Ynet, reveals that 47% of the public sees itself as Jewish first and Israeli second, as opposed to 39% who consider themselves first and foremost Israeli.


According to the IDI's Guttman Center, which published the data Tuesday, 94% of the Jewish population in Israel views itself as part of the worldwide Jewish community – 68% think Jews living in Israel share the same destiny as those living in the Diaspora.


The study was based on an ongoing survey undertaken by the Guttman Center among Jews in the country.


Those taking part were asked to rank the way they perceived their identity by order of importance. A total of 47% said they were Jewish, 39% said they were Israeli, 10% based their identity on their religious affiliation and 4% according to their ethnic denomination.


A closer look at the religious community showed that the more devout the sector – the stronger the Jewish definition: Some 78% of those identifying themselves as haredim and 73% of their religious counterparts chose the Jewish identity over the Israeli one, with 0% and 16% (respectively) choosing to define themselves as Israelis.


Among those who said they were traditionalist, 55% saw themselves as Jewish and 35% as Israelis. Within the secular community, 49% said they saw themselves as Israeli first and 34% said they were Jewish first and Israeli second.


As for the Arab sector, the polling data showed that the majority of Israeli Arabs see themselves as Palestinian or as Arab, and only a small percentage of community members see themselves as Israeli: Forty-five percent said they were Arab, 24% think of themselves as Palestinians, 19% define themselves by their religious affiliation and only 12% said they were Israelis.


The second part of the study takes a closer look at the current data in comparison to similar surveys taken in 1991 and 1999.


The data showed that the overall feeling of belonging to a "greater community" among Jews has remained unchanged despite a certain decline in the belief in a common destiny with Diaspora Jews.


The Guttman Center goes on to quote a poll undertaken in 2007, which found that 76% of Jews living in Israel felt they shared the same destiny as their brethren abroad; 2008's poll pegged the number at 68%. 


פרסום ראשון: 05.08.08, 08:09
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