The secular-haredi battle over the character of Jerusalem is perceived as the largest threat to the unity of the city, according to a joint Ynet-Gesher poll conducted on the backdrop of recent clashes in the capital.
Also according to the poll, residents of other cities are also concerned about increasing ultra-Orthodox nature of their surroundings following the arrival of a group of haredi families. It was also found that religious people are the most preferred neighbors for the average Israeli.
The poll was conducted by Panels and surveyed 511 respondents in a representative sample of the adult Jewish population in Israel. The maximum sampling error is 4.4%±..
In the first question, respondents were presented with a few different scenarios and were asked to identify which seemed the most threatening to the unity of Jerusalem. Sixty-one percent chose the secular exodus from the city spurred by what they perceive as its increasingly haredi nature. Some 22% said the end of Jewish building in the east of the city. Six percent were concerned mostly by factories and parking lots being open on Shabbat.
One percent responded "the bankruptcy of Beitar Jerusalem due to Gaydamak's entanglements." Ten percent responded that none of the above scenarios threaten the unity of Jerusalem.
Examining the answers according to religious affiliation shows that the secular exodus from the city is the most potent threat in the eyes of secular and traditional Israelis (75% and 56% respectively), while religious and haredi respondents indicated the halt of building in east Jerusalem (58% and 50% respectively). Of particular note is the fact that haredi respondents viewed the building issue as a bigger threat than violation of the Sabbath (32%).
How would the average Israeli respond to a group of haredi families moving into his neighborhood? Fifty-six percent would be concerned that the neighborhood would become haredi; 20% said they would be in favor of this; 16% would try to move to another area; 8% said they would organize a protest against the new residents.
An analysis of the results according to religious affiliation shows that the sentiment most popular among secular, traditional, and even religious Israelis is the fear of the neighborhood becoming haredi (61%, 55%, and 46% respectively), versus haredi Israelis who would be gladdened by the phenomenon (73%). However, some haredi respondents said they would be concerned about an increasing haredi nature of the neighborhood (18%). Many religious people also said they would be in favor of this (42%).
In the third section of the survey, respondents were asked: "Among the following, with which family not of your religious affiliation would you prefer to have as a neighbor?" Some 59% said religious; 26% said secular; 8% said haredi, and 7% said Arab.
Religious families were chosen at the highest rate among each of the other religious affiliations: (62% of seculars, 66% of traditionalists, and 64% of haredim). Most religious people said they would prefer to live with haredi neighbors (39%).
Many of the respondents preferred to segregate themselves and had a hard time choosing a neighbor with a different religious affiliation of their own even though they were asked to do so in the survey. (32% of haredim, 27% of religious, and 26% of seculars).
Ilan Gaal-Dor, one of the leaders of Gesher, responded to the findings: "Mostly people want to live with people like themselves. Among secular, traditional, and religious people, there is a sense of comfort living among one another – something that can't be said for the haredi population. We, at Gesher, are taking action to bridge the haredim with the rest of the population."