Haredi protest in Jerusalem
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Gael-Dor: Secular public open
A Ynet and Gesher poll has discovered that many secular members of Israel's population are concerned with predictions that the ultra-Orthodox sector will soon be a majority in Israel and believe this constitutes a major risk to the state's existence.
The haredim, their education, and their prevalence in the workforce are matters that have caught headlines recently.
Yair Lapid tells ultra-Orthodox Israelis seculars can no longer support them
The poll was conducted among 501 people – a sample of adult Jews living in Jewish cities in Israel.
The first question was, "What will you do if Israel becomes mainly ultra-Orthodox?" For 41% the answer was: "It would sadden me out of fear for Israel's existence", while 37% said they would be fine with it, and 12% said they would leave the country because they do not want to live in a "halachic state".
Those polled who define themselves as secular expressed more concern for a haredi majority, with 56% of them saying they would fear for Israel's existence. However 87% of religious and 92% of haredim were convinced that the secular minority would not suffer from an ultra-Orthodox majority.
Participants in the poll were then asked whether the state should attempt to prevent the demographic tilt. To this, 37% answered that all benefits to haredim should be withdrawn, 32% said nothing should be done because "whatever will be will be", 10% supported encouraging secular immigration, and 10% said they would be pleased with the change.
The results show that of the secular people polled, 50% would stop all benefits to haredim, while 52% of religious participants said they would take no action. Of the haredim polled, 75% said they would be pleased with the change.
The third question asked, "Which of the following proposals do you believe would better incorporate haredim into society?"
To this, 40% answered they should serve mandatory army service, 28% preferred national service, 21% recommended occupational training that would allow them to better incorporate into the workforce, 3% called for affirmative action on accepting haredim to jobs, and 4% said the state should not become involved.
The results showed that of the seculars polled, 47% believe mandatory IDF service would help haredim assimilate better, 37% of religious people believe occupational training would help, and 42% of the haredim want affirmative action.
Ilan Gael-Dor, general manager of Gesher, responded to the findings by saying, "It is clear to everyone that the haredim currently constitute a significant portion of Israeli society and the non-haredi population is concerned they will 'take over'.
"The poll proves that the Israeli public is open to accept the haredim, but at the same time believes they must take on a larger portion of the national responsibility, through army or national service. At Gesher we believe it is very important to extend the dialogue with the haredim and oppose slogans that only widen the gaps."