Israel '˜increasingly losing faith in most public institutions'

A leading Israeli think-tank has found that Israelis are increasingly losing faith in their government and most Israeli public institutions.

Israeli president Reuven Rivlin said the findings are troubling and required national soul-searching. Picture: AFP/Getty Images

The findings of a survey from the Israel Democracy Institute mirror the global trend of dissatisfaction and cynicism which is thought to have helped propel Britain’s exit from the European Union and the victory of US president-elect Donald Trump.

The think-tank also found a continuing nationalistic streak among the country’s Jewish majority, with more than half of respondents in a nationwide survey opposed to allowing Arab political parties into the governing coalition.

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Tamar Hermann, an Israeli professor who led the research, said the study found a “value shift” away from Israel’s traditional liberal democratic roots which should concern its leadership.

“Israelis are shifting away from the cosmopolitan point of view to a more communitarian, nationalistic, ethnic, religious point of view, much like is happening in other countries,” said Ms Hermann, academic director of the Guttman Centre for Public Opinion and Policy Research, which compiles the annual Israeli Democracy Index.

The study found a “significant drop” in the public’s trust in Israeli political institutions.

Trust in the Knesset, or parliament, fell to 26.5 per cent from 35 per cent last year. Similarly, trust in the government fell to 27 per cent from 36 per cent, and three quarters of respondents now feel their politicians are detached.

Israeli president Reuven Rivlin said the findings are troubling and required national soul-searching, adding that “at this moment of trial for democracies, we have to make an effort so that our democracy will be vital, strong and committed to all it citizens”.

The only institution that maintained its strong standing was the military, trusted by 90 per cent of the Jewish public and 82 per cent when the Arab minority is factored in.

While Ms Hermann cited “global trends” for the findings, Israel has been undergoing its own process of rising nationalism in recent years, driven by failed peace efforts with the Palestinians, a year-long wave of violence in Israel and the West Bank, three wars against Hamas militants in Gaza and the growing political power of religiously motivated West Bank settlers in the government.

The Guttman Centre is a division of the Israel Democracy Institute, an independent non-partisan think-tank.