Aharon Lapidot, ISRAEL HAYOM
It might be hard to believe when you look at recent newspaper headlines, but 93 percent of Israelis are proud to be Israeli, and the majority, 70%, even describe themselves as “very proud.”
These facts and more emerge from a special poll Israel Hayom conducted in honor of Independence Day, in cooperation with The New Wave Research institute. The poll surveyed a representative sample of 500 Israelis, with a margin of error of 4.5%.
Other data from the poll also paint a picture of prevailing optimism in 2012. For example, more than 80% of respondents say they prefer to live in Israel over any other place in the world, and only 9% would rather live abroad. About 83% intend to display their national pride by flying a flag outside their house or on their car.
Seventy-four percent of respondents defined Israel as a country that is good to live in, although a significant cohort, 17%, said that Israel is not a good country to live in. Still, if we compare this response to that in the previous question, it turns out that the majority of those who described Israel as not good to live in are still very proud to be Israeli.
Those groups most satisfied with life in Israel are people over the age of 55, religious people and residents of Jerusalem. Among those who said they were dissatisfied with life here, the largest group (around 50%) of respondents, were aged 25-44. This is the same age cohort that bears most of Israel’s economic and security burden. This group is also characterized by a greater number of secular than religious Jews and more college graduates than among the general population.
Life satisfaction also appears to be directly correlated with income level. Low-income respondents were least likely to say they are satisfied with their lives. Only 28.3% did so. Those with above-average income expressed greater satisfaction (80%), while those with high income were also very happy with their lives (76.8%). From a geographical perspective, Jerusalemites are the most content, with 82.1% expressing satisfaction. The rest of the country is tied, with levels of satisfaction hovering around 72%.
The people and the president
So what do we love most about Israel? Despite our complaining, it turns out that we love our fellow Israelis above all: 20.2% of respondents chose people as the thing they love most in Israel. In second place, only a tenth of a percent behind, were nature and the country’s landscape. High marks also went to the sense of shared fate here (16.4%), as well as our national character, 13.1%. Overall, one can say that around 50% of us love Israel because of things that have to do with its people.
Therefore it is not surprising that when respondents were asked to identify the most Israeli thing, 30% said “helping others.” In second place, with 21%, was President Shimon Peres. This can be viewed as a vindication of the man who used to be a lot less popular with the Israeli public. Peres’ biggest fans are older, secular, college-educated, high-income Israelis. Only among Jerusalem residents and the ultra-Orthodox did Peres score poorly. Other noteworthy responses to the question, albeit with lower percentages, were mangalim (barbecues), kvetching, the expression “yallah, bye” and the Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball team.
Not worried about the political situation
What are the issues of greatest concern to Israelis? The responses to this question were surprising as well. It wasn’t the Iranian nuclear threat, which came in second place, at 15.5%. The number one concern for Israelis was personal safety, in terms of violence, drugs and crime, registering 17.9%. The ultra-Orthodox and residents of Jerusalem were least concerned for their personal safety. Those most concerned were in the 45-55 age group and high-income earners. It’s reasonable to assume that the answer to this question was impacted by recent violent incidents at soccer matches and in other public places.
It is interesting to note that despite the fact that Israel is diplomatically isolated, that’s not an issue that worries most people. Only 3% of respondents expressed concern over it. Those 3% were mostly older, secular, college educated and residents of Tel Aviv. By contrast, other issues that have Israelis up at night include border security (14.9%), traffic accidents (13.5%), the economy (12.9%), and anti-Semitism around the world (12.1%). An explanation for Israelis’ major concern with anti-Semitism may lie in one of the other questions asked, concerning how respondents define themselves: as a Jew first and then Israeli, or the opposite? About two thirds, 65%, said they see themselves as Jews first.
Only 21% of respondents feel more Israeli than Jewish. The fact that Holocaust Memorial Day occurred just before the poll was conducted may well have influenced responses. Another question was whether respondents feel an affinity towards Diaspora Jews. Eighty-one percent of respondents said they did while 11.5% said they do not.
Torch lighting and barbecues
Among events marking Independence Day, more than half of Israelis, 52%, view the torch lighting ceremony on Mount Herzl as the most significant event of the day. It appears that last Wednesday’s tragic accident in which Lt. Hila Betzaleli was killed during rehearsals for the ceremony did not detract from the event’s popularity. The annual Bible Competition continues to be a major symbol of Independence Day, receiving high ratings, as does the annual IDF air and water show.
So what are we really planning to do to celebrate Independence Day? No surprises here: The top answer, given by 36% of respondents, was to have or attend a barbecue. Another third said they would hike or travel around the country without burning meat. Yet another 30% said they would stay home, and no doubt watch the Bible Competition and the movie “Givat Halfon Eina Ona” (Halfon Hill Doesn’t Answer), a 1976 Israeli cult classic satirizing an IDF reserve unit on the Egyptian border with Sinai.
Happy Independence Day!