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Australian Jews Overwhelmingly Opposed to Israel’s Judicial Overhaul, New Survey Shows

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The Australian Jewish community, among the most supportive of Israel in the world, is deeply concerned about the government’s plan for a judicial overhaul and fears for the future of Israeli democracy.

Titled “Crossroads 23: Surveying Australian Jews on Israel,” the survey, published on Friday, found that only 14 percent of the respondents agreed that the judicial overhaul, which would effectively strip the Supreme Court of its independence, was “good for Israel.” Nearly 75 percent took issue with the plan, which is splitting Israeli society apart and has sparked the biggest protest movement in the nation’s history.

Among the respondents, more than three-quarters said they had been following the debate in Israel over the judicial overhaul plan.

Additionally, only 46 percent of those questioned said they agreed with the statement that “democracy in Israel is alive and well.” That compares with 76 percent who responded in the affirmative when asked the same question in another survey six years ago.

Nearly two-thirds of the respondents (63 percent) said they were less confident than they were five years ago that Israel is a democratic country, and fewer than half (48 percent) said they were optimistic about Israel’s future.

The survey was commissioned by Plus61J, an online news publication of a liberal Zionist orientation that focuses on Israel, Australia and the Jewish world. The findings are based on a self-selected sample of 1,080 respondents who filled out the survey online. The survey was distributed through Plus61J, the Zionist Federation of Australia and an advertisement in the Australian Jewish News. As such, the findings are more reflective of attitudes among Jews who are religiously affiliated as opposed to those who are not.

The results were analyzed by Professor Emeritus Andrew Markus from the Australian Center of Jewish Civilization at Monash University in Melbourne. Markus was the co-author of a much more comprehensive survey of the Australian Jewish community, conducted in 2017, which was used as a benchmark for comparison.

The current survey was initiated in response to a new program created by Israel’s President Isaac Herzog, called Kol Ha’am (Voice of the People), which is designed to strengthen relations between Israel and Jewish communities abroad. The findings will be discussed at a Kol Ha’am conference in Australia scheduled for Sunday.

More than three-quarters of those questioned (77 percent) said they believed there was too much corruption in the Israeli political system. That compares with less than half (48 percent) in response to a similar question in the 2017 survey. An overwhelming 84 percent said they believed that Orthodox Judaism has too much influence in Israeli society, compared to 62 percent in response to a similar question in the previous survey.

Despite their deep concerns about the current Israeli government and the direction Israeli society is taking, more than three-quarters of the respondents (77 percent) said they identified as Zionists and 90 percent said they felt it was important for the Australian Jewish community and Israel to maintain close ties. Another 87 percent said they had a high level of personal connectedness to Israel.

The survey results indicate a possible gravitation toward the left among what is widely considered to be a staunchly conservative Jewish community. Only 41 percent of the respondents in the current survey said they believed Israeli control of the West Bank was vital to the country’s security, as compared to 61 percent in the 2017 survey. Another 58 percent said they agreed less today with Israeli policy vis-à-vis the Palestinians than they did five years ago.

Polls have shown that a vast majority of Israelis also oppose the judicial overhaul, which is currently on hold as negotiations are underway to reach a compromise between the coalition and opposition in the Knesset.

Other research suggests that, similar to Australia, a majority of Jews in Canada and in the United Kingdom object fiercely to the agenda of Israel’s new government. The Australian survey appears to be the first, however, to include specific questions on attitudes toward the judicial overhaul.

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Article source: Haaretz | Judy Maltz |Jun 16, 2023

2024-05-08 07:04:10.000000

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