Survey shows that most Orthodox and haredi Israelis believe the Knesset is too democratic, but not Jewish enough, while secular Israelis think opposite. But both groups consider human rights a Jewish value.
Poll: Religious sector thinks Knesset not Jewish enough
Survey reveals that most religious Israelis believe Knesset too democratic, but not Jewish enough, while seculars think opposite. All sectors consider human rights a Jewish value
Israel's religious and ultra-Orthodox sectors believe that the Knesset is not Jewish enough and too democratic, while the secular public considers the legislative body as too Jewish – a new survey reveals.
The poll, which was conducted by Ynet and the Yesodot Center for Torah and Democracy, questioned 501 individuals who compose a representative sample of Israel's adult population. The poll's margin of error is 4.4%.
The sample appeared split down the middle over the question of whether the Knesset is more Jewish or democratic: 39% said that the Knesset is more Jewish than democratic (23% of whom consider it a negative fact, while 16% consider it as positive), compared to 38% who think that it is more democratic than Jewish (21% of whom see it as positive, while 17% see it as negative.) The remaining 23% claimed that the Knesset is neither Jewish nor democratic.
The data shows that 59% of the religious participants identify the legislative body as more democratic than Jewish, and 52% of them are opposed to this. A similar percentage within the more conservative haredi sector believes the same. Meanwhile, 45% of secular respondents consider the Knesset as more Jewish, and 32% of them view it negatively.
'Jews connect over human rights'
And what Jewish values should the Israeli parliament adopt? The value of unity – "Love your neighbor as thyself" – got most of the votes in each sector, 55% overall. In second place came the Talmud proverb, "A person that tries to kill you - kill him first," with 10% of the votes. The "Love the stranger" principle came in third with 8%, while Jewish heritage education and the integrity of the land of Israel received 7% each. The institution of a day of rest on Shabbat came in last, with 5%.
Addressing the recent debate over the establishment of a parliamentary committee to investigate leftist organizations, the participants in the poll were asked to estimate whether the concern for human rights is a Jewish value. Some 76% said they greatly consider human rights as a Jewish value, 13% said they moderately consider it as such, while 9% said they either consider it somewhat Jewish or not at all.
Shoshi Becker, the education director at Yesodot, said that the question of whether the Knesset is more Jewish or more democratic underlines the difference of opinion between the religious and secular sectors. "This disagreement emphasizes the need to make Judaism more democratic, and democracy more Jewish," she said.
Becker noted that the majority of the Israeli public, both religious and secular, views human rights as part of Jewish tradition.
"It's a good opportunity for all sides to connect democracy and Judaism in this area, and strengthen the state of human rights in Israel," she said. "If we succeed, we will be able to actually achieve the unity of the people, which is the central Jewish message that the citizens of Israel would want the Knesset to adopt."