APN COVID Report #10: Israeli opinion during COVID-19

The Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) has conducted its monthly ‘Israeli Voice Index.’ This index tells us a lot about Israeli opinion on COVID-19. There were 830 respondents to the survey and the questions were conducted in a mixture of Arabic and Hebrew. The respondents are a representative cross-section of Israeli society in terms of age, gender and ethnicity.

One interesting result from this investigation is that when asked how they would rank the government’s performance in handling the pandemic medically on a scale of 1 (very poor) to 10 (excellent), 29% of respondents rated it 10/10:

There have been clear successes in the handling of the virus in Israel, leading to a very significant reduction in cases in the country since the beginning of April. These successes have been detailed in previous COVID reports and include effective lockdown, travel restrictions and contact tracing. Therefore, these results may not be entirely surprising, but a more surprising discovery is revealed when looking at the data for Israeli Arabs. Over a third of this group interviewed  (35.4%) gave the government 10/10 for its medical handling of the pandemic. This shows support from a sector of society usually more critical of the government.

The opinion on the government’s safeguarding of the rights of citizens was less clear-cut, yet still positive on the whole. Israeli Arabs in the survey were more critical than Israeli Jews with 15% of Arabs giving a ranking of 1/10  versus 6% of  Jews. It is unstated how the Shin Bet’s involvement in contact tracing, which the supreme court’s reversed, factored into the responses.  

The survey shows that the relationship between Jews and Arabs have improved during the crisis:

48% of respondents thought relations had moderately improved, and this figure did not differ between Israeli Jews and Arabs. This could partly be because of the heightened visibility of the Israeli Arab population given its large role in the healthcare industry. Half of Israeli pharmacists and a quarter of nurses are Arabs, even though they are a fifth of the population, according to the Bureau of Statistics. Also, Israelis are seeing Arab communities complying with the lockdown and other Coronavirus directives which have kept outbreaks low in predominantly Arab neighborhoods.

Many of the results of this survey regarding coronavirus are quite encouraging. They indicate that the Israeli public is relatively positive about the immediate impacts of the action taken by the government on COVID-19, and that relations between Israeli Jews and Arab citizens of Israel are improving. There has also been some evidence of cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians, which has been praised by UN special coordinator, Nickolay Mladenov. Given this, the current time is better primed for the Israeli government to engage in meaningful and productive dialogue with the Palestinians, rather than embarking on a unilateral West Bank annexation that would further decimate relations and the prospects for a two-state solution.

All data from Israeli Democracy Institute April Israeli Voice Index

Prepared by Thomas Sweeney, APN Intern

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