Israel’s Religiously Divided Society: Part II
A second look at the Pew Research Centre's Report into Israelis' political views
- See more at: http://www.mercatornet.com/demography/view/israels-religiously-divided-society-part-ii/17772#sthash.z73BfKsl.dpuf
In my last blogpost I introduced the Pew Research Center’s report: “Israel’s Religiously Divided Society”. In that post I noted some of the key religious findings of report. Today I will pull out the more political results for you – mainly to do with settlements, the two-state solution and Arabs living in Israel. Again I encourage you to read the report yourselves if you are further interested in the findings.
One of the largest political problems facing Israel is internal peace. When it comes to the feelings of Jews and Arabs towards their respective leaderships there is plenty of scepticism to go around. When asked whether the Israeli government is making "a sincere effort towards peace" 72% of Arabs said no, while only 20% said yes. However, 40% of Jews also answered no to this question while 56% said yes. The numbers were even worse when it came to the Palestinian leadership. 88% of Jews thought that the Palestinian leadership was not making a sincere effort towards peace and only 10% thought that it was. But 40% of Arabs also thought that the Palestinian leadership was not sincere in its peace efforts and a bare half thought that it was.
When it comes to the view of Israel as the Jewish homeland, Jews are nearly unanimous (98%) in agreeing that all Jews living anywhere in the world have the right to move to Israel and receive immediate citizenship. This number is practically unchanged throughout all four of the Jewish sub-groupings. Perhaps linked to this view of Jewish immigration, 76% of Jews think that anti-Semitism is common and increasing in the world and 91% say that a Jewish state is necessary for the long-term survival of the Jewish people.
The view of Israel as a Jewish homeland also perhaps colours the finding that more Jews agree or strongly agree that "Arabs should be expelled or transferred from Israel" than disagree/strongly disagree (48% vs 46%). The sub-group most in favour of this is not the ultra-orthodox Haredi but the "religious" Dati. Even 36% of the secular Hiloni agree with this statement.
Linked to this response, perhaps, is the fact that 60% of Israeli Jews said that God gave Israel to the Jewish people. This number jumps to 85% of West Bank settlers who say the same thing.
When it comes to views about the possibility of a peaceful coexistence between Israel and an Independent Palestinian state, more Arab Israelis than Jewish Israelis are confident that “a way can be found”. 50% of Arab Israelis are hopeful that a two-state solution can be found, while only 43% of Jewish Israelis share this confidence. However, this gap has significantly shrunk in the last two years as both Jewish and Arabs have become less confident in the prospects of a two-state solution. While Jewish Israelis are only slightly less confident than they were in 2013 (when 46% said they were confident of a two-state solution), Arab Israelis’ confidence has plummeted from 80% to 50% in 2015.
One of the roadblocks to a peaceful two-state solution is the continued construction of Israeli settlements, particularly in the West Bank. Currently 4% of Israeli Jews live in the West Bank (not including East Jerusalem). More Israeli Jews think that such settlements help Israel’s security (42%) than those who say they harm Israel’s security (30%). (25% think that they do not make a difference). A majority of Arab Israelis think that the settlements hurt (63%) rather than help (26%) Israel’s security.
The fragile nature of peace in the Middle East dominates our views on Israel, but it is not as large a concern for those actually living in Israel. When the respondents of the survey were asked to say, in their own words, what the single biggest longterm problem facing Israel was today, about 40% of Israel Jews cited some form of economic issue (inequality, housing costs etc). The largest response from Arabs was also some type of economic issue. Although roughly similar numbers of Jews named a security threat (Iran, terrorism) as those who cited economic issues, this contrasted with the views of Jews living outside of Israel. In 2013, two-thirds of US Jews named various security issues as the biggest long-term challenge to Israel and only 1% mentioned an economic problem.
Israel’s Religiously Divided Society: Part I
The Pew Research Center reports on the state of Israeli religious society.
- See more at: http://www.mercatornet.com/demography/view/israels-religiously-divided-society-part-i/17764#sthash.uTkGAnqn.dpuf
A few days ago Pew Research Center published a report entitled “Israel’s Religiously Divided Society”. The survey is comprehensive in its scope of questions and is based upon the results of face-to-face interviews in Hebrew, Arabic and Russian among 5,601 Israeli adults (18 and older) from October 2014 until May 2015. It included surveys with Jews in the West Bank and with Arab residents of East Jerusalem (thus using the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics’ definition of the Israeli population). The results are very interesting and over the next two blogposts I am going to pick out some of the data contained within 16 page overview/introduction. For those of you who are really interested, I encourage you to read the entire report. Today I want to concentrate on the religious findings of the report, while in my next post I will focus on the political findings.
81% of those living in Israel are Jewish. This 81% can be broken down into four categories into which Israelis identify with: Haredi (ultra-orthodox) which make up 8% of the Israeli population; Dati (religious) who make up 10%; Masorti (traditional) who make up 23% of the population; and Hiloni (secular) the largest grouping at 40% of the population. Of the remaining 19% of Israel's population, 14% are Muslim, 2% are Christian; 2% are Druze and 1% are “Other” or no religion.
This make up of Israel's population has changed somewhat since Israel's independence in 1949. The proportion of the population that is Jewish has declined about 10%, the Christina population has declined by a third while the Muslim proportion of the population has doubled.
The identification of “no religion” as a category separate from all of the subgroups of Jews is problematical – many of those identifying as secular Jews would say they are also of “no religion”. In fact the report states that only 22% of Israeli Jews say being Jewish is mainly a matter of religion. They are vastly outnumbered by the majority (55%) who see Jewishness as mainly a matter of ancestry/culture and by those who say that it's a mixture of both (23%). Not surprisingly, 70% of Haredim see being Jewish as a matter of religion, while 83% of Hilonim see it as a matter of ancestry and culture.
The difference in viewing Jewishness as a religion or as a culture can be seen in the breakdown of religious practices. Again, not surprisingly those identifying as Haredim are much more likely to: pray daily (76% of Haredim say they do this); attend synagogue weekly or more (85%); fast all day on Yom Kippur (99%); and do not travel on Sabbath (more than 99%) than the other groups. The corresponding numbers for Hilonim are (1%), (1%), (30%) and (3%). Interestingly there is no marked difference in religious practices between the age groups – the older generation is not noticeably more devout than the younger one.
The Jewish population is becoming more polarised in its religious practices and beliefs. Since 2002 the number of Haredi and Dati within the Jewish population have grown from about 16 to 20%. The numbers of Hiloni has also increased slightly by 1% while those in the middle of the spectrum, the Masorti, have decline by about 4%. In the future the numbers of Herdim are likely to grow as they have more children than the other Jewish subgroups. Fully 28% of Haredi aged 40 years and over have had 7 or more children. This compares with 5% of Dati, 2% of Masorti and negligible numbers of Hiloni. The share of Haredi in the population by age cohort show that they are a larger share of the younger age groups while the Hiloni are more likely to be found in the older age brackets.
This polarisation can also be seen from the answer to the question: “How many of the Jewish religious traditions do you observe? Some, all/most or none?”. In 1991, those who answered “some” were the largest group with 41%. Those who answered “all/most” were at 38% and those who answered “none” were at 21%. In 2015 those who answered “all/most” were now the largest group at 39%, while those who answered “some” had dropped back to 34%. The “none”s had increased though to 26% suggesting that most of those who had moved from “some” had gone to “none”.
Overall Muslims are the most devout of all four of Israel's major religious groups. A majority (61%) of Muslims say they pray daily, while only 34% of Christians, 26% of Druze and 21% of Jews say the same thing. When it comes to attending a religious service at least weekly the corresponding numbers are 49% of Muslims, 38% of Christians, 27% of Jews and 25% of Druze.
Israel's population will continue to be explored in my next post when I will look at the more political findings...
Three more suicide bombings in Brussels, 34 dead. The suicide bomber is the most lethal weapon in the Islamic State’s arsenal. He is flexible, intelligent, and, above all, cheap. It is the fact that he values his life so little that makes him terrifying. People who do not respect their own lives have none for others.
There is a sad irony in the fact that the attacks took place in Belgium, one of the few places in the world where physician-assisted suicide is legal. Not that the two phenomena are connected: suicide bombers are culturally alien to Belgium and the Islamic fanatics who recruit them probably regard its euthanasia law as another sign of Western decadence.
Yet both show that a society which no longer believes that human life is sacred becomes capable of heart-stopping cruelty. Islamic fanatics do this dramatically with bombs; Belgium’s euthanasia doctors do it quietly, by expanding ever wider the circle of eligibility for lethal injections. Once suicide is sanctified, it is impossible to stop the killing.
MercatorNet is taking an Easter break. The next newsletter will be sent on Tuesday, March 29.
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