Without an image of the future, it is difficult to achieve the right future. And in order to create this image, you need to understand what expectations the Israelis have. What do they expect from events that affect world politics. Of course, about the political reality inside Israel. What expectations do Israelis have from the elections in the USA and Russia in 2024?
On September 27 in Tel Aviv, Dor Moriah association, Haifa Format project, held a round table discussion. The purpose of the session was to discuss the results of the social survey “Israelis’ expectations for the results of the US presidential elections in 2024”.
The roundtable included the following participants:
Lev Mashin – senior researcher at Reichman University, and specialist in Russia and Eastern Europe,
Mikhail Finkel – lawyer, political scientist, rabbi,
Aaron Cohen – Human Rights Specialist, Ukraine Disaster Relief (USA),
Lola Kolpina – PhD in Sociology, Research Fellow at the University of Haifa, Research Center, Director of the International Analytical Center for Human Development, and head of the study’s research group,
Sofya Gugelev – orientalist,
Roy Jankelowitz – Israeli journalist.
The Haifa Format project was launched in 2017. It was created as a negotiation platform to discuss problematic narratives for Israeli society.
Experts, rabbis, political scientists and sociologists from the United States and Israel discussed the findings. The issue of “Republican or Democratic” victory divides Israeli society, and this threat has also become a topic for discussion. The probable threats to Israel’s security posed by several narratives were also discussed.
On September 27, some of the results of 4 sociological studies conducted as part of the “Haifa Format” were presented. The study was conducted by the Sociological Center “Maagar Mohot” on behalf of Dor Moriah. Research conducted from March to September 2023:
- Israeli attitude to the armed conflict in Ukraine;
- Israel’s attitudes towards legal reform;
- Israeli attitude to the issue of Israel’s neutrality;
- Israelis’ expectations of the US presidential elections in 2024
For the study, high-profile topics that caused social confrontation and conflict among Israelis were chosen. All these issues also affect their image in the future and the Jewish state as a whole. Depending on which side of the actions the Israeli public chooses, the image of its future.
The first study dealt with the Israeli response to the Ukrainian conflict. And here some interesting data was obtained. For example, about the Israelis’ conflicted fear of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. About 60% see the deterioration of relations with Russia as a threat to Israel. 9% fear spoiling relations with the US, and 3% fear spoiling relations with Ukraine.
The second issue that has divided Israeli society for 9 months is the legal reform. A study on Israel’s attitudes towards legal reform also yielded interesting results. For example, only 4% of Israelis regularly participate in demonstrations. And about 70% of Israelis believe that the judicial system needs change and reform.
The third study on Israel’s neutrality as an instrument in international politics. The experts assumed that most Israelis prefer Israel’s neutrality in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. It was interesting to see how much the neutrality theme could be applied to other international conflicts.
In conclusion, 78% of Israelis believe that Israel should be a neutral country when it comes to military conflicts. Disputes that occur in other countries and can be neutral depending on the law.
54% believe that the State of Israel should remain neutral in international conflicts. maintain relations with other countries and conduct an independent policy.
42% of respondents believe that Israel is military. This is done for the purpose of neutrality.
A divided society and the complex relationship of the Israeli government with the current administration (from the Democratic Party) of the US president. This situation indicated that the issue of the US presidential elections could become another narrative of conflict. In addition to the Judicial reform, the relationship between religion and state, and the Russian-Ukrainian conflict.
And this hypothesis was confirmed. The study showed that Israeli society is equally divided in the expectation of a Republican or Democratic victory:
- The difference in expectations from the elections for the second term is another matter in Israeli society. The perspective side of references in Israeli positions to the legal level that we identified earlier. This difference may stem, among other things, from the months-long protests surrounding the legal reform. The Democrats in the US support demonstrations and options.
- Secular and Arabic-speaking Israelis are in favor of a democratic victory (43-45% compared to 18-29% in various degrees of religious Jews). Religious Jews are in favor of a Republican victory (33-50% compared to 8-24% among Israeli Arabs and seculars). There are similar differences between Israelis with different political preferences. The right and center-right expect the Republicans to win (39-40% compared to 21-29% who expect the Democrats to win).
- The respondents see the positive effect of a Republican victory in the areas of “Israel’s foreign independence policy”. There is agreement on the field of national security. Respondents prefer the Republican candidate to win in the US.
Aaron Cohen pointed out to what extent the interests of each administration in the US are reflected in their server tools, also in Israel in the processes taking place here.
“Israelis should not necessarily put all their expectations on the Republican party,” Cohen added, “Israel has to keep in mind that the Democrats have in the past been supportive of Israel. Political change can always happen and the rise of powers are changing in the US.”
Mikhail Finkel pointed out that Israel, smaller than New Jersey, currently receives $3.5 billion in aid from the US. He added that it was unfortunate that prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu still has not yet been invited to the Biden White House, with a year left until the election.
“What does it mean? Well, his party, obviously, and him, don’t like Netanyahu, and they don’t like the democratic choice of the Israeli people. They don’t like the Israeli coalition,” Finkel said.
Another important issue in the discussion was among the participants of the round table. As part of the regular Haifa format meeting, we will discuss registering the lobby to the Knesset. Lobbying in favor of Israel’s neutrality in international conflicts. A number of Knesset deputies, after learning the results of the sociological study that was conducted, expressed their willingness to open the lobby registration. Experts care about Israel’s neutrality. Neutrality is seen as an instrument of international influence in safeguarding the state interests of the Jewish state.
Roy Jankelowitz noted: “I understand that Israel is taking the right status by not exactly getting involved in the Ukraine conflict,” owing to how many Jews are at risk in each of these countries. Finkel added that Israel is doing the most it can in bringing Jews from these countries in, and it’s important that these countries in conflict maintain good relations with Israel for this reason.
Conflicts in the post-Soviet space (Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Moldova, etc.). Conflicts in the Middle East and Far East Asia. These examples point to the desirability of actively using the instrument of neutrality for the benefit of Israel. The prospect of a major agreement mediated by the US with Saudi Arabia. The long-term perspective of the treaty with Iran mediated by Russia. All these threats and opportunities make Israel the centre of peace in the region. The Middle East Switzerland, a financial and logistical center.
The wisdom of thousands of years of Torah and spiritual and moral authority allows Israel, using the tool of neutrality, to fulfill the role of conflict mediator, the role of the abode of peace. Such an Israeli position can do much more for the Jewish state on the international stage.