The poll also found that most people would prefer to stand before a judge with a similar religious outlook as themselves.
The Ynet-Yesodot survey, which was executed by the Panels Institute, polled 519 respondents representative of the adult Jewish population in Israel. The standards deviation of the results is plus or minus 4.3%.
The poll found that 53% of respondents would prefer to stand before a secular judge, while 18% prefer a religious judge. Some 25% of respondents said it did not make a difference to them. Less than 1% responded that they would prefer an Arab judge.
An analysis of the results shows that the secular public has the most parochial outlook of all the Israeli sectors, preferring by a 71% majority to stand before a judge of a similar religious outlook as themselves. Sixty-eight percent of the religious public prefers a religious judge, and 48% of the haredim prefer an ultra-Orthodox judge.
Only 4% of the secular public stated that they would prefer to be judged by a religious justice. The results also showed that the secular public would prefer an Arab judge to a haredi judge.
Religious people, however, would prefer a haredi judge to a secular judge. Haredim would least wish to stand before a secular judge. Within the traditional public, 38% prefer a secular judge, 28% prefer a religious judge, and only 1% prefers a haredi judge. For 33% of the traditional respondents, the religious persuasions of the judge did not matter to them.
What would be the acceptance level among the public of a court manned by a majority of religious justices? As for the general public, 58% responded that they would not oppose such a situation – of which, 36% said this would not change their level of trust in the legal system, while 22% said it would bolster their trust in the system. Fourty-two percent of the general public said that a Supreme Court manned by a religious majority would damage their trust in the institution.
The picture changes when looking at the results by sector. Some 57% of secular people said they would lose trust in the legal system if the Supreme Court justices were mostly religious. Some 75% of the haredi public said their trust in the courts would increase if such were the situation.
Establishing valuesShoshi Becker, educational director of Yesodot Center for Torah and Democracy said, "The Jewish and democratic nature of the State of Israel will be set by its judges and leaders, as well as by the civilian population and its wishes."
According to her, "One of the central objectives of the State of Israel as a Jewish democratic state is to foster the trust of the people in the state's institutions. It is clear that a people divided into such variant sectors will feel more secure in a situation in which there is fair and relative representation of each sector in the state's institutions and leadership."
"The survey brings up a significant problem in that part of the public does not believe a judge to be capable of transcending his personal value perspective while presiding over a case," added Becker.
"The ever so prominent control the secular-liberal-Ashkenazi elite has on the Supreme Court is a source of discomfort for the religious public because the judge stipulates which values will be embodied in a ruling, and this is very much dependent on his personal world view, not just on his knowledge and analysis of the legal world."