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Poll: Most Israeli Jews Believe Orthodox Jews Are ‘Gradually Taking Over the Country’

Israeli police in November 2017 arrested dozens of ultra-Orthodox Jews as they protested the jailing of members of their community who refused to perform compulsory military service, the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth reported. PHOTO: Andalou Agency/File photo

Nearly half of Israelis fear that their democracy is in ‘grave danger,’ Israel Democracy Institute’s annual report shows

By Judy Maltz | 12 December 2017

HAARETZ — More than half of Jewish Israelis believe that the Orthodox community is taking control of society, according to the latest annual report by the Israel Democracy Institute published Tuesday. Only a minority of Israeli Arabs, however, shared this concern about their own religious establishment.

According to the 2017 Israeli Democracy Index, 53 percent of Israeli Jews and 37 percent of Israeli Arabs agreed with the following statement: “The religious are gradually taking over the country/society.”

Among nonobservant Jews, 79 percent said they believed this to be the case, but even among those who defined themselves as “traditional,” between one-third and one-half (depending on how “traditional” they considered themselves) agreed. Among Israeli Arabs, only about a quarter of those who defined themselves as nonreligious perceived religious Muslims and Christians as a threat to their way of life.

The index, the flagship project of the Israel Democracy Institute, monitors the state of Israeli democracy every year. The findings were based on responses from a representative sample of 1,024 interviewees.

According to the report, almost half of Israelis (45 percent) fear that their democracy is in “grave danger.” Most concerned were Jewish left-wing voters (72 percent) and Arabs (65 percent). Less than a quarter of Jewish right-wing and religious voters harbored such concerns. […]

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