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Dramatic fall in optimism as Israel suffers ‘a total defeat’

April 12, 2024 at 2:23 pm

Thousands of Israeli citizens stage a demonstration demanding Benjamin Netanyahu’s resignation, early elections and release of Israeli prisoners in Gaza, in Tel Aviv, Israel on April 06, 2024. [Saeed Qaq – Anadolu Agency]

A recent survey has revealed a significant drop in optimism among Israelis concerning the future of democratic rule and national security in the country. The findings, released this week, indicate that both measures are approaching really low points in the country’s history.

The survey found that only 37 per cent of Jewish respondents and 24 per cent of Arab respondents expressed optimism about the future of democratic rule in Israel. Similarly, only 38 per cent of Jewish respondents and 17 per cent of Palestinian citizens of Israel respondents were optimistic about the nation’s future security.

Political affiliation appears to play a significant role in shaping these views, with those on the left and centre of the political spectrum expressing greater pessimism compared to those on the right. Among left and centre respondents, a mere 13 per cent said they were optimistic about the future of democratic rule, while 50 per cent of right-wing respondents shared this sentiment. Regarding national security, 44 per cent of right-wing respondents expressed optimism, compared to significantly lower levels among left and centre respondents.

The survey also addressed the ongoing military operation in Gaza where more than 33,000 Palestinians – the vast majority of whom are women and children – have been killed. Some 89 per cent of all respondents, including 94.5 per cent of Jewish respondents and 61.5 per cent of Palestinian citizens of Israel, said that Hamas bears “a great deal of responsibility” for the suffering of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Despite this, nearly half of all respondents think that Hamas should be recognised as a representative organisation for large segments of the Palestinian people.

Furthermore, the majority of respondents across the political spectrum believe that Hamas has succeeded in refocusing international attention on the Palestinian issue following the 7 October attack, after years of the conflict being relegated to the margins.

As Israel continues to grapple with internal political divisions and the enduring Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the declining optimism among its citizens regarding the future of democracy and security presents a significant challenge for the nation’s leaders.

The survey was conducted by the institute’s Viterbi Family Centre for Public Opinion and Policy Research.

The pessimism of the Israeli public was echoed in an article published in Haaretz yesterday arguing that “Israel Has Been Defeated – a Total Defeat.” The author stressed that the aims of Israel’s military operation “won’t be achieved, the hostages won’t be returned through military pressure, security won’t be restored and Israel’s international ostracism won’t end.”

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