The intolerable gap between public's will and Government policy

2016 Israel Religion & State Index - by party voters

In Israel's Jewish community there is very broad opposition to the Government's actions in realm of religion & state and consistent support for all aspects of religious freedom and equality. This is the main conclusion of the Israel Religion & State Index.

We often hear from Government authorities, when they address Jewish Diaspora leadership or confront the Supreme Court, the claim that only they represent the will of the people. The annual Israel Religion & State Index once again proves just how cynical and unfounded this arrogant statement is.

Click here for the findings of the 2016 Religion & State Index by political party voters in the Jewish community »

Click here for the full 2016 Religion & State Index report »

On Rosh HaShanah, we reported to you on the annual Israel Religion & State Index conducted by Hiddush. In this new report, we endeavor to explore the Index data broken down by party voters in order to give Knesset members and Hiddush readers a clear look at the Jewish public's positions according to voting patterns. This present analysis presents you with the gap between the Coalition parties (who claim to represent the "will of the people") and their very own voters. This analysis demonstrates the disappointment Hiddush has often expressed towards the Opposition parties regarding their silence on matters of religion & state, even while the vast majority of their voters support drastic changes in the realm of religion & state; the elimination of State empowered religious coercion that violates individual liberties, human dignity, gender equality; and the full participation of Israel's ultra-Orthodox community in shouldering the civic burdens of national security and economy. This demonstrates how critical the advocacy and initiatives of civil society organizations like Hiddush truly is - for no political parties are willing to stand for religious freedom and equality.

We often hear from Government authorities, when they address Jewish Diaspora leadership or confront the Supreme Court, the claim that only they represent the will of the people. The annual Israel Religion & State Index once again proves just how cynical and unfounded this arrogant statement is.

One of the most prominent themes of the 2016 Index is that the public, including Coalition voters for the civil parties, rejects the Government's surrender to the ultra-Orthodox parties. 82% of the Jewish public supports mandating State funded ultra-Orthodox schools to implement the State's core curriculum, including mathematics, English, science, and civics. 83% of the Jewish public (and 83% of Likud voters) favor compulsory military or civilian service for all or most yeshiva students. 79% believe that the State budget for yeshivas should be cancelled (39%) or significantly reduced (40%).

We have called again and again for the establishment of a civil government without political parties that support religious coercion and oppose the integration of ultra-Orthodox Jews into the military and workforce. One of the Index's most stable findings is that 66% of respondents favor a government without the ultra-Orthodox parties. This position crosses political lines. 69% of voters for the civil Coalition parties (Likud, Kulanu, and Yisrael Beiteinu) support this, as do 87% of voters for the Opposition parties (Zionist Union, Yesh Atid, and Meretz). Unfortunately, the previous Likud government with Yesh Atid and the Jewish Home fell prematurely. The few achievements it had made in matters of religion & state were all reversed by the current government. The Government surrenders to the ultra-Orthodox parties' every whim, and the Opposition lacks a real commitment to the struggle for religious freedom and equality in Israel.

A major emphasis of Hiddush's work is its advocacy for marriage freedom in Israel, which wins the consistent support of the majority of the public. One of the most impressive findings of the 2016 Index is a dramatic increase in respondents who do not want to have Orthodox weddings for themselves or their children - an increase from 37% in 2015 to 47% this year. Among secular Jews, 78% are not interested in having Orthodox weddings! It's time for the civil Coalition and Opposition parties to work together with Diaspora Jewish leadership to actualize marriage freedom in Israel. The majority of Israeli Jews support Diaspora Jewish involvement in this effort, and it is essential to actualize the right to family for Israelis and Diaspora Jews who wish to make Israel their home.

The annual Israel Religion & State Index is the most systematic and comprehensive survey on matters of religion & state. Beyond its publication in the media, its users include policymakers, opinion shapers, social and political commentators in Israel and in the Diaspora, as well as civil society organizations. It is unparalleled in the monitoring and analysis of the public's will in arena of religious freedom and equality.

A clear message for the centrist and left wing parties in Israel, and maybe even the right wing parties, is that 38% of the Jewish public would likely vote for a newly established centrist party that focuses on advancing religious freedom, including 54% of secular Jews and 35% of traditional Jews. There is no doubt that this is indicative of a sense the public has that these issues have been abandoned by the Government, and that the public expects much more from its political leaders on issues of religion & state.

This reality is not inevitable and not predestined. A civil government can and should be established to achieve the needed civil revolution in Israel. Most of the public supports this. If and when this occurs, which will be very late in coming, the promise of Israel's Declaration of Independence for religious freedom and equality can finally be realized.

 

82% support mandating core curricular studies, 83% support requiring national service, 79% support reducing State funding for yeshivas

In Israel's Jewish community there is very broad opposition to the Government's actions in realm of religion & state and consistent support for all aspects of religious freedom and equality. This is the main conclusion of the Israel Religion & State Index, conducted by the Rafi Smith Polling Institute for Hiddush - For Religious Freedom & Equality.

Namely: In contrast to the law passed by the Government to exempt ultra-Orthodox boys' schools from teaching State core curricular studies - 82% of the Jewish population support obligating these schools to teach mathematics, English, sciences, and civics (including 86% of Likud voters, 91% of Kulanu and Yisrael Beiteinu voters, 70% of Jewish home voters, and 97% of voters for the opposition parties). In contrast to the law exempting yeshiva students from enlisting in the military, 83% of the Jewish public (83% of Likud voters, 100% of Kulanu voters, 79% of Jewish Home voters, 96% of Yisrael Beiteinu voters, and 98% of opposition party voters) supports making military service or civic service compulsory for all or most of Israel's yeshiva students. The Government has doubled its budget for yeshivas, but 79% of the Jewish population support cancelling (39%) or reducing (40%) this budget substantially (including 81% of Likud voters, 95% of Kulanu and Yisrael Beiteinu voters, 60% of Jewish Home voters, and 99% of Opposition party voters). 79% of the Jewish public supports the entry of al ultra-Orthodox men into Israel's workforce (37%) or at least significantly reducing the percentage of ultra-Orthodox men studying full-time in yeshivas instead of working (42%), including 58% of Likud voters, 57% of Jewish Home voters, 72% of Kulanu voters, and 86% of voters for the Opposition parties.

 

State funding for yeshivas

In Israel there are some 130 thousand yeshiva students above the age of 18 who are not entering the workforce. The State budget for yeshivas stands at approximately 1 billion shekels. What do you think?

An overwhelming majority of Israeli Jews support the initiatives in the realm of religious freedom that the Government Coalition has thwarted. Support for the operation of public transport on Shabbat continues to rise steadily. 73% of the public supports full scale operation (23%) or partial operation (50%) of public transport on Shabbat - including: 74% of Likud voters, 86% of Kulanu voters, 90% of Yisrael Beiteinu voters, and 95% of voters for the Opposition parties. This has risen from only 58% in 2010. Support for the State of Israel recognizing all forms of marriage, including Reform, Conservative and civil marriages, rose from 64% last year to 66% this year (including 63% of Likud, 83% of Yisrael Beiteinu, and 94% of Opposition party voters).

Given this background, it's no surprise that 81% of Israelis are dissatisfied with their government's actions on matters of religion and state (66% of Likud voters, 90% of Yisrael Beiteinu, 86% of Kulanu, and 96% of voters for the opposition parties). Only among Shas party voters did a majority (52%) express their satisfaction. 54% of secular Jews and 38% of the Jewish public said that they would be likely or very likely to vote for a newly established centrist political party that aims to advance religious freedom and equality in Israel. Support for separation of religion & state also continues to rise. 63% this year, compared to 61% in the previous two years, and 55% in most previous surveys. A great majority support the actualization of the Declaration of Independence's guarantee of freedom of religion and conscience (including 89% of Likud, 83% of Yisrael Beiteinu, and 76% of Jewish Home voters). This majority has held stable since this research was first conducted.

 

Satisfaction with the Government's actions on matters of religion & state

To what extent are you satisfied with the Government's actions on matters of religion & state?

 

Probability of voting for a new Religious Freedom and Equality political party

If a new centrist political party were established that focused on advancing freedom of religion and equality, and the polls indicated that it was likely to pass the electoral threshold, how likely would you be to vote for it?

 

Support for freedom of religion and conscience

Do you support the State of Israel actualizing freedom of religion and conscience, meaning freedom of choice for secular and religious Israelis to act according to their personal worldviews?

 

Additional data from the 2016 Israel Religion & State Index:

Jewish weddings outside the Rabbinate. There was a dramatic increase in the percentage of respondents who do not want Orthodox weddings for themselves or their children - from 37% in 2015 to 47% in 2016. Among secular Jews - 78%, i.e. 4 in 5, do not want Orthodox wedding ceremonies.

Support for the Government's Western Wall compromise and demand for an egalitarian section of the Western Wall. In light of the ultra-Orthodox parties' demand to cancel the Government's agreement, it's interesting to see the extent to which this contradicts the public's will, including the will of Coalition party voters. 66% support the Western Wall agreement between the Government and the Reform & Conservative movements and the Women of the Wall. This includes 65% of Likud, 79% of Yisrael Beiteinu, 71% of Kulanu, and 90% of Opposition party voters. Only 34% oppose the compromise. 55% of the Jewish population say they would use and visit the egalitarian prayer plaza, of which 34% would prefer it over the traditional plaza, and 21% would make use of both plazas.

Support for the State granting equal status to the three major streams of Judaism (Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox). 64% support this (including 56% of Likud, 78% of Kulanu, 81% of Yisrael Beiteinu, and 92% of Opposition party voters), versus 36% who oppose such a measure.

Kashrut certification without the Chief Rabbinate. 81% of the Jewish public favors opening the kashrut certification market to competition and eliminating the Rabbinate's monopoly (including 81% of Likud, 94% of Kulanu, 88% of Yisrael Beiteinu, 68% of Jewish Home, and 98% of Opposition party voter), of which 51% support opening the market to organizations of all Jewish streams, and 29% prefer only opening the market to Orthodox organizations.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews support Government benefits for those who are employed or seeking employment. Surprisingly, 52% of United Torah Judaism and 56% of Shas voters support giving preference to people who are striving to actualizing their working potential when it comes to Government benefits. 83% of the general Jewish public supports this, including 90% of Likud voters and 81% of Jewish Home voters.



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