Thursday, July 26, 2007

Poll: Israelis insist prime minister must be Jewish

7/26/2007 6:30:00 AM Email this article • Print this article
Israelis continue to embrace universalistic democratic values, but that sentiment has been severely tested by security concerns, according to a recent poll that also revealed deep-seated public dismay over institutional corruption in the Jewish state.

Among the poll's findings: A strong majority of Israelis said they would support only a Jew as prime minister. Nearly two-thirds of the respondents (including 31 percent of Israeli Arabs) said they would encourage the passage of legislation that would allow Jews only to hold the nation's highest office, according to the survey, which was commissioned by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, a German organization devoted to promoting liberal and democratic values worldwide.

At the same time, a majority of Israelis (55 percent) said they believe that Israeli Arabs are entitled to the same civil rights as all other Israeli citizens. Slightly more than half of those surveyed thought that Israeli Arabs should perform some aspect of national service, including 48 percent of the Israeli Arab participants. More than three-quarters of those surveyed said Israel's fervently Orthodox, or haredi, community should have a similar public-service obligation.

The survey, which was released early this month, also revealed strong support for Israel's security forces to conduct anti-terror operations unhindered. An overwhelming 75 percent of those questioned (including 21 percent from the Arab population) endorsed the right of the military and the Israel Security Agency (Shabak) to act "without limitations" in ticking-bomb cases, even if doing so might violate the civil and human rights of terrorism suspects.

Meanwhile, many of those questioned indicated that institutional corruption represents a serious threat to democracy and the rule of law. Nearly 90 percent of those surveyed agreed with the statement made by Israel's State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss that corruption "is a cancer deeply entrenched in the institutions of [Israeli] government."

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