Security Threatened: Surveying Israeli Opinion on Peace and War
by Asher Arian
New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995. 308 pp. $16.95 (paper).
Reviewed by David Rodman
Middle East Quarterly
Relying on the latest survey research methods, Arian has produced an exhaustive study of the Israeli public's attitudes toward national security issues. The results are hardly surprising. He finds that most Israelis are confident that their state will not only survive but prosper, and that a broad consensus exists that Israel should both remain a Jewish state and actively seek peace with its neighbors. In contrast, other issues -- whether to pursue a "Greater Israel" and whether to promote tolerance of minorities, respect for the law, respect for democratic government -- prompt deep division.
The demographic data Arian presents is more intriguing. Contrary to popular opinion, he shows the Israeli public is not divided into two rigid ideological camps. Many Israelis, in fact, aren't firmly committed to the agenda of either Labor or Likud but, given the right circumstances, can be persuaded to join either camp. Also, while there are clear differences between the generally more hawkish Sephardim and the Ashkenazim (religious vs. secular, the settlers vs. nonsettlers, the young vs. old, the poorly educated vs. well educated), these differences are smaller than commonly thought.
Arian tangentially addresses the role of public opinion in policymaking, noting that while the Israeli public's attitudes affect the state's policies insofar as the public elects the government, which then sets the national agenda, once the government takes power, public opinion has little impact on day-to-day decisions.
Related Topics: David Rodman | June 1996 MEQ
receive the latest by email: subscribe to the free mef mailing list
This text may be reposted or forwarded so long as it is presented as an integral whole with complete and accurate information provided about its author, date, place of publication, and original URL.