A moment before opening the champagne bottle, the Rafi Smith Institute conducted a comprehensive opinion poll for Ynet, which reveals surprising details about the Israeli society.
The Survey's 500 participants– seculars and haredim; Jews and Arabs; veteran Israelis and new immigrants; rightists, leftists and centrists – paint a fascinating picture of the changed the people of Israel have gone through in the past 10 years.
One of the main things the poll shows is that the State's citizens are more pessimistic about its situation, but feel more connected to it and more optimistic about their personal condition. The survey's sampling error is 4.5%.
On the eve of 2010, the people of Israel feel less united. Sixty-nine percent of the respondents believe there has been a decline in social unity, compared to only 14% who feel society is more united and 17% who feel there has not been any change.
Despite being less united, 34% of Israelis feel more connected to the State compared to their feeling in the year 2000. Among the religious public, on the one hand, and left-wing Israelis, on the other hand, the feeling of unification has relatively weakened in the past decade. Compared to people born in Israel and veteran immigrants, new immigrants feel more connected to the State.
The social unification feeling also derives from the way we perceive the Israeli society's attitude towards minorities. Forty-seven percent of Israelis believe the society's attitude is more racist towards minorities, compared to 22% that think Israel is less racist and 31% who have not felt a change in the attitude towards minorities in the past 10 years.
Those who believe Israel is more racist are mainly adults, seculars, people leaning to the left and residents with a lower level of education.
Thirty-seven percent of Israelis feel closer to religion and Jewish tradition, 13% have drawn away from religion, but about half of the population did not experience any shift in their relation with God.
Seculars, people with a high level of education and income, and people with a worldview leaning to the left, feel less close and have even distanced themselves from religion and tradition. Among religious and traditional Jews, 65% and 51% respectively say they have moved closer to religion and tradition, compared to 18% of seculars.
Leftists leaning to the right
In terms of political outlook, the Israeli society has moved to the right. Eighty-two percent of respondents who define themselves are belonging to the right side of the political map, claim their worldview is more rightists now and only 2% say they lean more to the left.
Among leftists, 37% say their outlook is more leftist, compared to 14% who say their worldview is more rightists. Sixteen percent of the rightists say there has been no change in their political outlook compared to 49% of leftists who stick to their political opinion. A relatively strong shift to the right was recorded among young people, members of the haredi and religious public, people with a low income level and immigrants.
At the end of a decade with the highest number of election campaigns, and following an endless number of politicians questioned on suspicion of corruption, it's no wonder that the faith of the majority of the population (67%) in its leadership and in the State's institutions has weakened.
Only 9% say their level of faith in the leadership has grown stronger, while 24% say there has been no change in their level of trust towards the leaders and the State's institutions. Among native Israelis and the ultra-Orthodox and religious public, the level of trust in the leadership and the State's institutions has especially weakened. Compared to the Jewish sector, where 7% say their level of faith has grown stronger, 17% of the Arabs say they no longer believe the leaders.
Following a war, hundreds of military operations and acts of terror and basically no peace agreements, Israelis seem to have gotten used to the situation. Thirty-nine percent believe the security-related situation will improve, 35% believe it will deteriorate, and 2^% believe there will be no change.
Thirty-five percent believe Israel will sign a peace settlement with one of its neighbors in the coming decade, 65% believe this will not happen, and 16% did not respond. Sixty-one percent of the Arabs believe there will be peace, and 43% think the security situation will improve. Twenty-nine percent of Israel's Arab citizens believe another peace agreement will not be signed, and 30% believe there will be no change in the security situation.
It's tough being a child in Israel
Technology has made great progress s in the past decade: The internet is faster, we all carry cellular phones and the size of TV sets and computers has shrunk. Most Israelis welcome these changes, but some are not too enthusiastic about them.
Members of the haredi and religious public express their "objection" to the technological revolution, with 43% saying it has more disadvantages than advantages. Among immigrants from the former Soviet Union, more believe the technological revolution is a positive thing than among veteran Israelis (92% compared to 42%).
About 55% of Israelis believe the level of culture has gone up, compared to 28% who think it has gone down and 17% who believe there has been no change. Seculars, immigrants from the former Soviet Union, people with an academic education level and people with an average and higher income level believe that Israeli cinema, literature, music and theater have improved in the past decade. Forty percent of haredim believe the level of culture has gone up, compared to 47% who believe it's not as good as it used to be.
So what is it like to grow up in Israel? If you ask adults, it used to be better. Sixty-nine percent of the survey's respondents say that it is more difficult for children to grow up in Israel today, compared to 18% who believe it's easier to grow up in Israel and 13% who believe nothing has really changed in the environmental conditions and that children can still grow up in peace.
The differences among the Jewish and Arab populations are very small, and compared to new immigrants – among veteran Israelis and people with a low income level, there is a relatively strong feeling that it is tougher for children to grow up in Israel.
Ex-USSR olim more optimistic
Fifty-seven percent of respondents say they are less optimistic about the situation of the State. Twenty-six percent say they are more optimistic, and among 17% there has been no change in the feeling. Only among immigrants from the former USSR there is a difference in favor of "optimistic" in terms of the State's situation.
The pessimistic feeling is mostly felt among people aged 30 to 49, among Sephardic people, among people with a higher income level and people leaning to the left and to the center in terms of their political views. Fewer Arabs than Jews say they are more optimistic (19% compared to 27%).
The optimistic feeling in regards to the personal situation crosses gender and sectors: Men and women, native Israelis, new immigrants and the haredi-religious public are relatively more optimistic. However, as people grow older, their level of optimism decreases.