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Survey: Israel Increasingly Rejects Democracy

A survey conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute reveals that over half the Jewish population of Israel is opposed to full equal rights for Arab citizens and that Israel increasingly rejects democracy as the preferred form of government.

The general conclusion of the survey, which is dubbed the “Israeli Democracy Survey” and will be conducted every year, is that Israel is basically a democracy in form more than in substance, and that it has yet to internalize fully the concept of democracy.

Of 32 countries listed in the survey, Israel scores poorly on  freedom of the press and discrimination against minorities.  In human rights violations, Israel (including the territories) leads the list, together with South Africa.

The current survey discovered the lowest support in the last 20 years for the assertion that democracy is the best form of governance: Only 77 percent of the respondents supported this premise – as compared to 90 percent in 1999. Israel is also one of the only four countries of the 32 listed in the study, in which most of the public believes that “strong leaders can do more for the country than debates or legislation.”

Prof. Asher Arian and Prof. David Nachmias, who conducted the survey, say that Israeli democracy is particularly vulnerable today because of the occupation, the intifada and the war on terror. Consequently, Israel scores relatively low on human rights and freedom of the press, which they say should be a warning sign. On freedom of the press, Israel scored 70 out of 100 – the minimum requirement for the press to be considered free. One of the reasons attributed to the dip in Israel’s rating in this area, from 72 points in the mid-1990s, is the attitude of the authorities toward the foreign press since the onset of the intifada. In this respect, Israel is ahead of only Romania, South Africa, Argentina, Mexico and India.

Concerning discrimination against minorities, Israel scored 3 on a scale of 0-4, and thus belongs to the bottom third of the 28 countries covered in the survey.

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Carol Sanders was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. She is a retired legal services attorney and author of legal texts. She lived in Israel from 1963 to 1966, where she worked on a kibbutz, did graduate studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and served as an assistant to the then-mayor of Jerusalem, Teddy Kollek. Carol is a long-time activist with Jewish Voice for Peace, and is the JVP representative to the Middle East Advisory Committee and a member of Bay Area Women in Black.

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