May 8, 2008

Poll: Most Israelis see themselves as Jewish first, Israeli second

Sixty years after the Israel was established as the Jewish state and the polemic is at its peak – are we Jewish first and Israeli second or vice versa?

An ongoing study preformed by the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI), published for the first time on Ynet, reveals that 47% of the public sees itself as Jewish first and Israeli second, as opposed to 39% with consider themselves first and foremost Israeli.

According to the IDI's Guttman Center, which published the data Tuesday, 94% of the Jewish population in Israel thinks of itself as part of the worldwide Jewish community – 68% think Jews living in Israel share the same destiny as those living in the Diaspora.

The majority of the study was bases on an ongoing survey, taken by the Guttman Center among the Jewish sector in the country.

Those taking part were asked to rate the way they perceived their identity according to importance, and so 47% said they were Jewish, 39% said they were Israeli, 10% based their identity according on their religious affiliation and 4% according to their ethnic denomination.

A closer look at the religious sectoring showed that the more devout the sector – the stronger the Jewish definition: Some 78% of those identifying themselves as haredim and 73% of their religious counterparts chose the Jewish persona over the Israeli one, with 0% and 16% (respectively) choosing to define themselves as Israelis.

Among those who said they were traditionalist, 55% saw themselves Jewish and 35% as Israelis. Within the secular sector, 49% said they saw themselves as Israeli first and 34% said they were Jewish first – Israeli second.

As for the Arab sector, the polling data showed that the majority of Israeli Arab see themselves as Palestinian or as Arab, and only a minor percentage of the sector see themselves Israeli: Forty-five percent said they were Arab, 24% think of themselves as Palestinians, 19% define themselves by their religious affiliation and only 12% said they were Israelis.

The second part of the study takes a closer look at the current data in comparison to similar surveys taken in 1991 and 1999.

The data showed that the overall feeling of belonging to a "greater community" among Jews has remanded unchanged despite a certain decline in the belief in a common destiny with Diaspora Jews.

The Guttman Center goes on to quote a poll taken in 2007, which said that 76% of Jews living in Israel felt they shared the same destiny as their brethren abroad; 2008's poll pegged the number at 68%

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