According to the January Peace Index survey, 65% of Israelis ranked the relationship of religion and state as important or very important in their choice of a political party in the next elections. While this clearly makes religion and state a mainstream issue, it still ranked below both security and economic issues. This was true whether Israelis were asked about the pressing issues of the day or their plans in the next election.
Economic and security issues dominated when Israelis were asked to name the important issues of the day. 86% of Israelis ranked economic issues as important or very important. 81% believed security to be important or very important.
When asked which issue was the most important, economics and security were still the clear winner. Economic and security related issues tied for first place (~44%) when respondents were asked to name the most important issue facing the government. Concerns about vested interests, such as the Haredim or the wealthy, ranked much father behind. Only 8% expressed concern about vested interests.
The survey also looked at what would govern Israelis’ choice of a party in the next election. Once again, these issues dominated the Israeli mind. 79% thought socioeconomic issues were important or very important. 73% felt security and the party’s leader were important or very important.
The importance of women’s issues is unknown. Despite the great amount of press coverage and social debate around women in the public space, the Peace Index did not include the status of women among its survey questions on the important issues of the day. When asking about choice of parties, the survey asked only about the importance of including women on the party ticket.
The number of women on the ticket ranked very low in importance, but it isn’t possible to infer much from this. Access to political power is only one of many issues related to women in the public space. The past few months have made clear that the status of women includes many other issues: freedom of movement on sidewalks and buses; the ability to walk down a street without harassment or physical threat; and the opportunity to participate in public ceremonies as a singer, speaker, or award recipient are just a few of the non-political issues affecting the status of women.
The importance of the relationship of religion and state as a current objective is also difficult to assess. The survey appeared to conflate that issue with Haredi rights. In the questions about current government objectives, survey participants were asked about the balance of rights between Haredim and others. However, when asked about choice of political party, they were asked about the importance of the relationship between religion and state. The privileges of the Haredim are only one of many issues affected by the relationship of religion and state in Israel. Other issues would include the role of the rabbinut, recognition of clergy and beit dins in the Diaspora (both Orthodox and non-Orthodox), and burial and marriage rights within Israel.
The Peace Index poll is a monthly telephone survey sponsored by Tel Aviv University and the Israel Democracy Institute. The January survey took place on January 30-31 and included 602 respondents. Survey results have a 4.5% margin of error. The questions on the survey vary from month to month.