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The Peace Index:
Date Published: 09/06/2013
Survey dates: 27/05/2013 - 30/05/2013

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The May Index

What is preferable from Israel’s perspective—a victory for Assad or for the rebels? The Jewish public does not have a clear position on the question of whether it would be more in Israel’s interest for the civil war in Syria to end with a victory for the rebels or with the survival of Assad’s regime. About one-third (32%) think it would be preferable for Assad’s regime to survive, about one-fourth (24%) say it would be better for the rebels to seize power, 17% see both possibilities as equally bad, and 27% do not know which is preferable, which is an especially high rate for Peace Index surveys. Among the Arab respondents, the most common answer was “I don’t know”—44%. About one-third (32%) of Arab respondents estimated that from Israel’s perspective (and this was not necessarily their own personal preference as well), it would be preferable for the rebels be defeated by Assad, while 14% think it would be better for Israel if Assad falls. Ten percent see both possibilities as equally bad.

What should (or shouldn’t) Israel do about the conflict in Syria? The Jewish public is almost completely unanimous (86%) that it is better for Israel not to help either of the sides. There was no such unanimity among the Arab respondents; a third thought Israel should help one or the other of the sides, a third claimed it should not help either side, and the remaining third did not have a clear opinion on the matter.

The bombing of the weapons convoy. There is also broad agreement among the Jewish public on whether Israel acted wisely or unwisely recently when it bombed a weapons convoy from Syria that was intended for Hizbollah in Lebanon. Over three-fourths of Jewish respondents (77%) said Israel acted wisely, while only 12% thought Israel acted unwisely given the possibility that Assad will need to respond so as to prove he is still in charge in Syria. As for the Arab respondents, the distribution of responses is completely different: 40% think this was a wise step for Israel, while 20% think that it was an unwise one. Again, an especially high rate (40%) chose the “I don’t know” response.

The turmoil in the Arab world. As for the implications of the turmoil in the broader Arab world, a small majority (52%) of the Jewish respondents believe the governments of the Arab countries are busy with their domestic problems and therefore will not turn against Israel in the foreseeable future. At the same time, a not inconsiderable minority (38%) sees this turmoil as dangerous to Israel because Arab governments may try to divert attention from their domestic problems by turning against Israel. A similar picture emerges from the Arab respondents: 46% believe the turmoil will not lead the Arab leadership to turn against Israel, 26% see this possibility as likely, while 28% said they did not know.

From the developments in the Arab world we moved to a domestic issue: the status of the Bedouin in the Negev:

Bedouin loyalty to the state.
Amid the recent lively debate on the difficult relations between Israeli authorities and the Negev Bedouin, we explored where the public stands on this issue. The findings show that the Jewish public’s perception of the Bedouin population is not positive. Only one-third of Jewish respondents think the majority or all Bedouin are loyal citizens of the State of Israel, while the majority (54%) is divided between those who think only half are loyal (29%) and those who think most or all Bedouin are not loyal to the state (25%). Reponses in the Arab public were similar, though there is room to assume that they relate differently to the question of loyalty to the state at the outset. About one-third (31%) of Arab respondents said most or all Bedouin are loyal to the state, 17% said that most or all are not loyal, and 13% said that about half of the Bedouin are loyal to the state. The rest (some 37%) chose the “I don’t know” answer or declined to respond.

How law-abiding are the Negev Bedouin? The Jewish public holds an even more negative opinion of the Bedouins’ attitude to the law. Only 19% of the Jewish public think most or all Bedouin are law-abiding, while the majority—two-thirds—is evenly divided between those who say only about half are law-abiding and those who believe most or all are not law-abiding. Among the Arab respondents, about one-fourth (27%) think that most or all Bedouin are law-abiding, and a similar rate (25%) think that most or all are not law-abiding. Ten percent of Arab respondents believe that about half of the Bedouin are law-abiding while, in this regard again, 38% chose the “I don’t know” option.

The state’s (un)fairness toward the Bedouin. Along with the Jewish public’s tendency to a negative stereotypical perception of the Bedouin, the Jewish public is almost evenly divided on whether the State of Israel treats the Bedouin fairly in terms of providing services such as health, education, and welfare. Forty-six percent think the Bedouin are treated fairly, compared to 43% who say they are not. Clearer differences of opinion are found on the question of allocating land to the Bedouin. In this case, the rate of Jews who think the state’s treatment of the Bedouin is fair (45.5%) is clearly higher than the rate who see the state’s treatment of them as unfair (33%). Among Arab respondents, the picture is, as one would expect, different. The prevailing opinion among Arab respondents (46%) is that the state does not treat the Bedouin fairly when it comes to providing services (24% see the state as fair and 29% do not know). On the painful question of land allocation, the distribution of responses of the Arab respondents was more clear-cut: 50% said the state is unfair toward the Negev Bedouin while only 17% believe it is fair; the rest chose the “I don’t know” response or declined to answer.

The chances of a clash between the sate's authorities and the Bedouin. In light of all the above, we were quite surprised to find a prevailing assessment that the state and the Bedouin are not on a dangerous collision course. Only about a third of the Jewish public (35%) agrees with the assertion that if relations between the state authorities and the Negev Bedouin do not improve, the Bedouin are likely to rebel in the future and even turn violent. The majority (57%) views the chances of this as moderately low or very low, and the rest do not know. Among the Arab respondents as well, the main opinion (42%) is that an uprising against the state by the Negev Bedouin is not likely
(26% see the chances of this as high and 31.5% responded that they do not know).

Next we moved on to a completely different issue in the socioeconomic sphere:

The fairness of banks to their customers.
When asked whether Israeli banks treat their customers fairly compared to banks in other countries, 57% of the Jewish public responded negatively. Less than a third (31.5%) said that the behavior of the banks is moderately fair (26.5%) or very fair (only 5%!). When it comes to their own bank branch, the public is evenly divided (48%) between those who do not trust their bank to look out for the interests of its customers and those who do trust their branch in this regard. The attitude of Arab respondents toward the banks is more positive than that of the Jewish public: 43% viewed the banks’ treatment of their customers as fair compared to banks in other countries, while 38% assessed it as unfair to one degree or another. As for one’s own branch, 48.5% of the Arab respondents said they trusted their bank branch to look out for the interests of its customers while 40% did not trust it to do so.

And the state’s supervision of the banks? Given the Jewish public’s widespread dissatisfaction with the banks’ treatment of customers, it is not surprising that the majority (57%) claims the state’s supervision of the services provided by the banks to their customers and of the cost of those services is quite weak. Only 19% see the supervision as appropriate while 14% think it is too tight. As for the Arab respondents, the most common opinion (34.5%) is that state supervision of the banks is appropriate, 31% consider the supervision too weak, and 24% view it as too tight.

And regarding the seaports. The Jewish public assesses the state’s behavior more positively when it comes to the state’s intention to boost competition between ports, thereby streamlining operations and lowering costs. Two-thirds favor this policy while about only one-fifth agree with the contention that the government’s real aim is to weaken the workers committees and thereby infringe the basic rights of the workers to organize and protect their interests. Generally, then, as we found in the past—for example, regarding Israel’s open-skies policy and the IDB issue—the findings concerning the banks and the ports show that the Jewish public opposes what it sees as excessive concentrations of power, whether with regard to large companies, wealthy people, or workers committees. Among the Arab respondents, support for the position of the Histadrut and the workers committees (36%) slightly exceeds support for the government’s position (32%); the remainder of the Arab respondents do not favor any position or do not know.

The Negotiations Index for May, 2013
The Peace Index project includes ongoing monitoring of the Israeli public's attitudes towards peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The monthly Negotiation Index is comprised of two questions, one focusing on public support for peace negotiations and the other on the degree to which the public believes that such talks will actually lead to peace. The aggregated replies to these two questions are calculated, combined, and standardized on a scale of 0–100, in which 0 represents total lack of support for negotiations and lack of belief in their potential to bear fruit, and 100 represents total support for the process and belief in its potential. Each month, the Negotiations Index presents two distinct findings, one for the general Israeli population and the other for Jewish Israelis.

Graph of the Month: In terms of Israel’s interests, is it better that Assad’s regime falls and the rebels seize power or that his regime survives and defeats the rebels? (Percentage of the Jewish public)

Graph of the Month: In terms of Israel’s interests, is it better that Assad’s regime falls and the rebels seize power or that his regime survives and defeats the rebels? (Percentage of the Jewish public)

Negotiations Index: General sample 46.6; Jewish sample 44.2.

The Peace Index is a project of the Evens Program for Mediation and Conflict Resolution at Tel Aviv University and the Israel Democracy Institute. This month's survey was conducted by telephone on May 27-30, 2013, by the Midgam Research Institute. The survey included 596 respondents, who constitute a representative national sample of the adult population aged 18 and over. The survey was conducted in Hebrew, Arabic, and Russian. The maximum measurement error is ±4.5% at a confidence level of 95%. Statistical processing was done by Ms. Yasmin Alkalay.


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