Most Israelis willing to fight for country, survey finds

Thursday, January 19, 2006
JERUSALEM — A new government-supported study said most Israelis, despite nearly 60 years of war, remain willing to fight for their country.

The study, termed "Patriotism and Israel's National Security," asserted that a huge majority of Israelis were prepared to join the military and fight for their country. The study surveyed more than 800 people, including Arabs and Jews, Middle East Newsline reported.

"Patriotism is strongly related to national security," Uzi Arad, a leading Israeli strategist and head of the Herzliya Conference, said. "This premise was our primary motivation in conducting an annual survey, aiming at mapping and monitoring the Israeli patriotic sentiment."
The survey said 85 percent of those polled expressed readiness to fight for their country. Arad said this was the highest level of support among Western nations. In second place was the United States, with 63 percent.

The survey was meant to be presented at the annual Herzliya Conference, scheduled to begin on Jan. 21 in the coastal Israeli city. The study, conducted under the office of Israel's president, said Jewish patriotism was more pronounced among the religious, affluent, educated and elderly.

"My children's generation is not as patriotic as my generation," Arad said. "This is a failure of the educational system and leadership."

The study said 56 percent of Arabs were not proud of their Israeli citizenship and unwilling to fight for the country. Twice as many Israeli Arabs described themselves as Palestinian rather than Israeli patriots. Israel has about 1.2 million Arab citizens.

Still, 77 percent of Arabs said Israel was superior to other countries — a higher level of support than that expressed by Jews. The study said 53 percent of Arabs were "proud of the Israeli welfare state, three times that of Jews."

Arad, a former senior official of the Mossad, said Arabs had been wary of his pollsters. He said Arab respondents were assured that the poll was independent and not meant for government purposes.

"Some of them thought this was the Shin Bet [Israel's domestic intelligence agency]," Arad said. "As a result, we deliberately increased the sample of Arabs."