Tent protest in polls: One big unhappy middle class

Posted: August 3rd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: elections, Polls, The Left, The Right | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off

Recently published polls regarding the social protest reveal potential for major political changes in Israel, though not necessarily immediate ones

The Tent Protest has been dominating the news cycle in Israel for two weeks, and now there are also a couple of interesting polls regarding its possible political impact.

While it would be unwise to try and predict what sort of effect these unprecedented demonstrations will have on Israeli politics, the polls do confirm some of the hunches we had in the last three weeks, and most notably, a potential for far-reaching changes in the political system in the years to come.

-    The support for the protest crosses sectors and party lines. According to Channel 10′s poll conducted on Monday, 88 percent of Israelis support the protest. The middle class parties lead the way: 98 percent of Kadima voters (!), 95 percent of Labor’s and even 85 percent of Netanyahu’s Likud voters find the protest just. Even if these figures dropped in the last couple of days—which had some fractions and public disputes in the protest movement—they are still exceptionally high.

-    The attempts to discredit the protest have mostly failed. Government spokesperson and rightwing organizations tried to tie the protest to left wing movements, claiming that it is a politically-motivated move aimed personally against PM Netanyahu. Still, 74 percent of the public think that the protest is a genuine one, and only 22 percent find it to be politically motivated.

-    The hard right is the only group not identifying with the protest. Half of Shas’ voters and most of those voting for the settlers’ parties think the protest is politically motivated. Voters of those parties are more inclined to oppose the protest than any other group. I believe that these groups sense that the protest might challenge the dominant political arrangements in Israel – ones with benefit the settlers and the religious parties.

-   The protesters reject the major opposition and the coalition parties alike. I wouldn’t take the headline of the Globes-Jerusalem Post’s poll—about a possible social party winning 20 seats in the coming elections—too seriously. There is a long time until the elections and it’s impossible to know which issues will dominate the campaign. Still, it’s very interesting to see where these 20 seats (roughly 16 percent of the votes) come from: 4-5 seats from Kadima, 2-3 seats from Likud, 2-3 seats from Labor, and some more votes from Meretz and undecided voters. The Arab parties and the extreme right are not hurt by the protest.

Those figures match the Channel 10 poll – it’s the middle class the supports the protest more than any other group, and it’s the parties on the center and left of the political map which voters are unhappy with. This is good news for those (like me) who think that Kadima and Labor cannot promote progressive agenda. It seems that many of those parties’ voters are giving up hope on them as well.

-    The best option for the government is to negotiate with protesters and possibly try to co-opt them. According to the Jerusalem Post, 45 percent of the public thinks that the protesters should negotiate with the government to try to obtain their demands, 29 percent said the demonstrations should go on in their current format. If the government looks serious enough, it could cut the popular support for the demonstrations by two thirds.

To sum it up, all figures point to a unique phenomenon: the secular middle class – usually the backbone of society—is unsatisfied with the political and economical trends, and more important, with the entire political system (usually it’s the other way around – the more you move to the edges of the system, the less satisfied people there are). Under these circumstances, the potential for major political changes—though not necessarily immediate ones—is enormous.


Everything you (never) wanted to know about Israel’s anti-boycott law

Posted: July 14th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, The Right, The Settlements | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

A reader’s guide to democracy’s dark hour

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What does the law say?

Basically, the anti-boycott law allows all those who feel they have been harmed by a boycott, whether against Israel or an Israeli institution or territory (i.e. the settlements in the West Bank) to sue the person or organization who publicly called for it, for compensation. This definition is very broad—even a simple call not to visit a place falls under it—and most important, the prosecutor plaintiff doesn’t even have to prove damages.

You can read the full text of the law here (it’s not long). The important part is below (translation by ACRI):

Definition:

1. In this bill, “a boycott against the State of Israel” – deliberately avoiding economic, cultural or academic ties with another person or another factor only because of his ties with the State of Israel, one of its institutions or an area under its control, in such a way that may cause economic, cultural or academic damage.

Boycott – a civil wrong:

A.     Knowingly publishing a public call for a boycott against the State of Israel will be considered a civil wrong to which the civil tort law [new version] applies, if according to the content and circumstances of the publication there is reasonable probability that the call will bring about a boycott and he who published the call was aware of this possibility.

B.     In regards to clause 62 [A] of the civil tort law [new version], he who causes a binding legal agreement to be breached by calling for a boycott against the State of Israel will not be viewed as someone who operated with sufficient justification.

C.     If the court will find that an wrong according to this law was deliberately carried out, it will be authorized to compel the person who did the wrongdoing to pay damages that are not dependent on the damage (in this clause – damages, for example); in calculating the sum of the damages for example, the court will take into consideration, among other things, the circumstances under which the wrong was carried out, its severity and its extent.

Check out Roi Maor’s analysis of the implications of this law and what it will mean:

[The boycott law] will have a significant and immediate practical effect. As of today, a wide range of people and groups who once called for a boycott will cease doing so. The space for debate and discussion in Israeli society will shrink right before our eyes.

How come this law passed three Knesset votes?

The key moments in the legislation process was a decision by Binyamin Netanyahu’s government (and by him personally, as hetold the Knesset on Wednesday) to have the entire coalition back the law. This means that the law will have the automatic support of most of the Knesset members, and that even coalition members who oppose it won’t be able to vote against it. Once the bill passed Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee—controlled by the right—it was clear for the two final votes, which took place Monday night.

So, how did Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak vote?

They didn’t. They avoided the vote. See the full roll-call from the Knesset vote.

When will the law take effect?

It already did. Starting yesterday (Tuesday), it is now illegal to call for a settlement boycott in Israel. The only part of the law which is not effective yet is article 4, which deals with the punishment of organizations that would support a boycott (they will be stripped of their special statutes). This article, which is seen as a backdoor way to persecute civil society and leftwing organizations (more on this issue here), will be made effective in 90 days.

Yesterday an Israeli Beitenu MK already threatened Arab MK Ahmed Tibi that he will be the first to feel the effect of the new law. “Whoever shows contempt for the law and stomps on it will be responsible for the outcome,” MK Miller told Tibi in the Knesset.

Is it really so bad? I heard there is a similar law in the US, and that in France, a court punished some group calling for boycott on Israel.

Those examples are very different from the Israeli law. The US legislation refers to boycott by foreign governments, and the French case had to do with a unique interpretation to a law concerning discrimination. In fact, a Knesset research report, prepared during the work on the boycott bill, concluded that it couldn’t find examples of similar laws in Western democracies, and resorted to citing examples from countries such as Venezuela, Eritrea and Ethiopia. As a result, the Knesset’s legal advisor filed an opinion stating that it would be very hard to defend this law in the High Court for Justice. The Government Attorney thinks it  is a “borderline case,” but he is willing to defend the law in court.

What about the High Court? I hear that it is likely to strike down the law as unconstitutional.

For that, Israel would need to have a constitution… But the answer is yes, many think that the court will kill the law or parts of it, and petitions on this issue has already been filed. Yet a verdict would take time, and more important, it might gravely hurt the Court’s own statues, as will be perceived as acting in against the will of the public (the right to override Knesset law is not formally granted to the Israeli high court, and therefore lies in the heart of a political controversy). Already, there are threats from leading politicians to the court not to intervene in this issue, or else they would limit the court’s power. This has become a true watershed moment for Israel.

Furthermore, there are those on the left who believe that going to the court would play into the hands of those who initiated the boycott law, and ultimately strengthen the ability of the right to introduce such pieces of legislation. Read this though-provoking piece from Yossi Gurvitz on this issue.

What about the Israeli public? Does it support this law?

Right now, yes. A poll found 52 percent of the public supporting the anti-boycott law, while only 31 opposes it.

Mike Asks: Is full boycott illigal as well?

Yes. for example, if an Israeli writes a letter to an foreign artist and suggests he cancel his gig in Tel Aviv as long as the occupation goes on, he could potentially be sued by the producer, and any other person who thinks this act hurts him. I guess that even by the bartender could sue – and they won’t have to prove damages. Calls for boycott of academic institutions are illegal too.

Alex asks regarding Foreign nationals in Israel – does the law include them too?

Yes. When in Israel, one needs to obey Israeli laws, including ones concerning damages. From what I understand from ACRI (Association of Civil Rights in Israel, which has been in the frontline of the struggle against the law), the anti-boycott law would include foreign nationals as well - as long as they make the boycott call while in Israel. One reservation is that it’s not a criminal law, so you need someone to actually sue you for damages, and the court needs to be able to collect them. My guess is that if this law remains active,  rightwing and settlers’ organizations will become serial prosecutors plaintiffs of boycotts in order to silence dissent, and, of coarse, make some money on the way.

The law doesn’t apply to foreign nationals in the West Bank, which is under military rule and not Israeli civilian law.

how about Israelis abroad?

The law should apply to Israelis everywhere in the world, so theoretically, if a Boycott from Within activist gives a lecture in London, he could be sued by a fellow citizen upon his return to Israel. Still, it seems that suing over offenses done abroad will be more complicated; check out Woody’s comment from 12:51PM for a discussion of some of the problems it raises. I could only add that with every new law–not just this one–it’s hard to predict the outcome of such borderline cases. We can only wait the rulings of Israeli courts to see how they interpret the law.

Is discussing or repealing the law legal?

Yes it is. Remember that it is not a criminal law but a tort one, so as long as you don’t advocate boycott while repealing the law, nobody has “a reason” to sue you.

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This article was cross-posted with 972 Magazine. The answers are to questions posted there.


Polls: Israeli public follows Netanyahu to the right

Posted: May 28th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, Polls, the US and us | Tags: , , , , , , | Comments Off

According to the Jerusalem Post, only 12 percent of the Jewish public views President Obama as “pro-Israeli.” Israel Hayom’s poll has Netanyahu’s Likud party picking up five seats following the PM’s US visit

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can be satisfied with the result of his visit to the United States. A new poll published today shows growing support among the Israeli public for his positions regarding the two-state solution.

According to the “Hagal Hachadash” poll, published by the pro-Neatnayhu tabloid Israel Hayom, only 28 percent of the public support president Obama’s guidelines for a solution based on the 1967 borders. 61 percent supports the positions presented by Prime Minister Netanyahu in his speeches in Washington, those regarding a continued Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley and the rejection of a compromise that would divide Jerusalem into two capitals.

If elections were held today, Netanyahu’s Likud party would make gains, collecting up to 32 Knesset seats (it now holds 27). The rightist-Orthodox bloc would win 69 sets, while the center-left would hold on to an all-time low of 51 seats.

One interesting figure: Even in this poll, Kadima keeps its current 28 seats, indicating that Netanyahu won’t chip at Tzipi Livni’s base.

A different poll, conducted by the right-leaning Jerusalem Post, shows that only 12 percent of the Jewish public considers President Obama pro-Israel, while 40 percent of Israeli Jews categorize him as pro-Palestinian.

However, it is interesting to note that according to Israel Hayom’s poll, Obama is more pro-Israel than pro-Palestinian (38 to 37 percent), and a clear majority of the public – 68 percent – says that “president Obama is committed to Israel’s security.” Some of the difference between the two polls can be explained by the fact that the Israel Hayom sample included Palestinian citizens, while the Jpost had a Jews-only sample.

Haaretz‘s poll from Thursday had Netanyahu’s approval rise by 13 points.

A few notes regarding these numbers: Earlier this week I quoted a Maariv poll that had 57 percent of the public somewhat supportive of the positions outlined in President Obama’s speech. It seems that the readers who posted critical comments of this item were right, and the way Maariv framed the questions in the poll “tilted” some of the public towards more moderate positions.

At the same time, we did have a series of polls in recent years which had around half of the Jewish public agreeing to a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders. What I think we are witnessing now is a shift of the public to the right, following the positions expressed by Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Since Netanyahu became Prime Minister, he was urged to present his own diplomatic vision. The thinking was that the PM is strong enough, and the public will follow him wherever he goes. It seems that Netanyahu finally made up his mind: He basically rejected the two-state solution, and as expected, many Israelis went with him.

Where do we go from here? I’ll try to deal with that question in my next post.

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Knesset polls: The Israeli Right has the upper hand

Posted: May 7th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, Polls, The Left, The Right | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Financial paper Globes: Avigdor Lieberman’s party getting stronger; reaches 18 Knesset seats

Though we are still far from elections, two polls were published last week in the Israel media. According to both, if elections were held today, the Right-Orthodox block would have remained in power, possibly even getting stronger.

In Globes‘ poll from Sunday, Avigdor Lieberman’s party, Israel Beitenu, goes up to 18 seats of the Knesset’s 120 (it has 14 currently) and the Likud reaches 29 seats (27 now). Kadima would have dropped from 28 to 26 seats and Labor to 8. Labor has won 13 seats in the last elections, but since split to two parties – Atzmaut, under Ehud Barak (5 seats) and Labor (8 seats). According to all recent polls Atzmaut, Barak’s new party, will be left out of the next Knesset.

Altogether, the right rises to 72 seats, while the center-left block drops to 48.

Yedioth Ahronoth’s poll, which was published last Friday, checked what would be the result for Labor under several potential leaders (following Barak’s departure, Labor will soon conduct new premieres). Amram Mitzna, who announced his candidacy this week, has the best result – 17 seats – but even together with Kadima’s 25 seats in this poll, the rightwing and Orthodox parties hold a majority of 62 seats. When Labor is under other leaders the Right is even stronger. Avigdor Lieberman polls 16 seats.

According to the same poll, a majority of the public (48 against 41) thinks that Israel should recognize an independent Palestinian state, while keeping the so-called “settlements blocks”; and a clear majority (53 percent) believes that Netanyahu should present his own peace plan in his visit to Washington this month, and include in it “significant concessions”.

Yedioth’s poll was conducted before the Palestinian reconciliation was announced, so these figures could have changed significantly since. Yet one could still draw two conclusions, which are at odd with the messages coming out of the PM’s office: First, Netanyahu’s coalition is stable, and if he calls new elections, he is likely to win them; second, the PM has a mandate from the public to make concessions – and it is his own choice not to do so.


Final Results

Posted: February 14th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: elections, Polls | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

The final results of the general elections were published on Thursday evening. Here they are, together with the polls’ average I posted here and my own projection.

elections-final

Everyone missed out on the big surprise of the election – Kadima passing the Likud and becoming the biggest party again. The reason is simple: a new law prevents publishing polls in the last 4 days before an election. In the days leading to the elections, there was a significant move of voters from left-wing parties to Kadima, probably in order to stop Netanyahu. Meretz and Labor lost 3-4 MKs to Kadima in the 72 hours prior to the elections.

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The Last Polls

Posted: February 7th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: elections, Polls | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

A new law forbids publishing polls in the four days before the elections, in order not to influence voters’ decisions. The Israeli media published yesterday its final polls.

The numbers are not that different from one poll to another, and they all show a clear advantage for the Right-Orthodox block led by Benjamin Netanyhu (*). This means Netanyhau will be Israel’s next prime minister, even in the unlikely event of Tzipi Livni’s Kadima being the biggest party. Our average gives the Right a bit more than 67 MKs, meaning he can form a government even without taking in the extreme-right “Ihud Leumi” party. As I wrote before, Netanyahu will surly try to get Labor or Kadima into his government as well. Given the advantage he has now, it shouldn’t be too hard.

Here are the numbers. The later polls are on the right. The grey column on the right end of the table is our polls average. On Monday I will post my own prediction. 

(Click on the table to see it in full size)

final-polls

Avigdor Liberman is the big winner of the elections. His party will probably pass Labor and become Israel’s third largest. The latest polls indicate that he is still getting stronger, so given the fact that we have three more days before the elections, even a 20 plus result for “Israel Beitenu” won’t be a big surprise.

Liberman’s success is helping Kadima, who is getting slightly stronger, probably because of voters wishing to balance his power in the next Knesset. There are 1-2 percent of Left-leaning undecided voters, most of them women, hanging between Kadima and Meretz. Barak’s labor is not an option for them.

Labor’s war bump has stopped, and the latest polls show the party even weakening a bit. This goes to show that the public is still not trusting Ehud Barak with anything but national security.

Shas and Yahadut Hatorah, the two orthodox parties, are very stable in the polls, but one has to remember that Shas usually over-performs in the elections.

The Arab Balad party is in real danger of not passing the 2 percent minimum threshold. It’s also more than probable that the two environmental parties (“The Green Movement” and “The Greens”) won’t enter the Knesset. Their campaign has been hurt by the war, but still, if they ran together, they would have gotten in. If Balad does stay out of the Knesset, that means that the Center-Left Coalition has lost up to five seats because of parties not passing the minimum threshold.

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Today’s polls, February 4-5

Posted: February 5th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: elections, Polls | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

we have 5 new polls in the last couple of days. We will probably have more tomorrow, and I’ll update the table as soon as possible.

The 30 MKs result for the Likud in “Israel Hayom”’s poll seems a bit too high, and so does the 20-21 for Liberman in the Globes poll. All the rest of the results make sense. Liberman’s “Israel Beitenu” party  is still gaining ground, while the Likud is stable around 27 for some time. The Right-Orthodox block keeps a 10-12 MKs advantage over the Left-Center block (*). That means Netanyahu is our next PM.

Balad party is in real danger of not getting into the Knesset, while Hadash is getting somewhat stronger. On the Right, “Habait Hayehudi” should be a bit worried as well.

Five more days to go. Here are the numbers (click on the table to see it in full size).

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The Weekend’s Polls, Dec 27th

Posted: December 27th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: elections, Polls | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

We have a 6th poll this weekend, and it’s an interesting one. According to Maariv’s poll from Friday, Kadima has one more MK than Likud (30-29), but more importantly, for the first time since October, the Center-Left and the Right wing are at a draw (or almost a draw: 60-59. it’s not the first time we see a poll where the numbers don’t add up to the Knesset’s 120 MKs).

Our average, however, still shows a 6.2 advantage for the Right.

Here are numbers. For more details on this table, check out yesterday’s post. Click on the table to see it at full size

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The Weekend’s Polls, Dec 25th

Posted: December 26th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: elections, Polls | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

A month and a half to the elections and the numbers are all over the place. Channel 2 gives Kadima 29 MK’s and a lead over the Likud, while Channel 10 gives Kadima only 23 MK’s, with a 12 MK’s advantage to the Likud.

None of the polls give the Center-Left block the advantage. The smallest margin is 58-62, according to the channel 2 poll. That means Netanyahu will lead the next government, regardless of which will be the largest party.

It is, however, clear that the Likud has lost some ground last week. Both Avigdor Liberman’s “Israel Beitenu” and Meretz are getting stronger, while Labor has weakened again. The margin between the blocks has somewhat narrowed, from 8.8 MKs last week to 7.6 today. The public’s attention has shifted in the last few days to the events in Gaza, but it’s too early to see their effect in the polls. 

Here are the polls and their average. You can compare it to last week’s, which is on the right column. Click on the table itself to see it at full size.

 

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Today’s polls, December 12

Posted: December 13th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: elections, Polls | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

While I was celebrating my birthday and neglecting the blog, we had no less than five new polls. All of them were conducted right after the primaries in the Likud, and before Netanyahu managed to move Moshe Feiglin, head of the “Jewish Leadership” fraction in the Likud, from the 20th place in the party’s list of candidates, to the 36th place (which will probably leave him out of the Knesset).

I decided to show all the polls in one table, and to add from now on the average of all polls conducted on the same week. I think we can learn a few new things from looking at the numbers this way.

If you click on the table itself, you will be able to see the it at full size. I don’t have the Yedioth Ahronoth poll’s full results; I will update the table when I get them. UPDATE: the Yedioth poll was added.

Most pollsters put the 3 major Arab parties (Hadash, Balad and Raam) into one category (“Arab Parties”). “Ihud Leumi” party changed its name to “Habait Haleumi”.

While grouping the numbers, I noticed a few problems: First (*), as you can see, two of these polls add up to 121 MKs – one more than the Knesset actually has. While I would prefer the pollsters to round their numbers in a way that will add them up to an exact 120, I don’t think this is a big problem for us, since there is really no way to project precisely how the seats will be allocated in the actual election (It has to do with the surplus vote agreements between the parties. You can read more about the allocation of the Knesset seats here).

The second problem (**) is the average for the Green party: it’s now at 1.25, 1.6, which is under the 2% threshold a party needs in order to get into the Knesset (which equals 2.4 MKs). But the real result for the Greens is actually higher – as you can see, in two of the polls the Greens didn’t pass the threshold, so their votes were lost, and the 120 seats (or 121…) were allocated between the parties that did pass the 2%. In these polls, the Green Party showed like it didn’t get ANY votes, but in reality, it could have gotten as many as two MKs (1.67% of the votes). The conclusion is that as long as some of the polls show a party under the threshold while others show it above the threshold, our average for this party is completely useless.

What can be said about the Green Party based on these polls, is that the question of the party entering the Knesset has a considerable effect on the margin between the left and the Right blocks. Whenever the Greens are out, the results get nearer to a landslide (in both cases the Right wins).

All polls show Labor getting a bit stronger, while Kadima losing ground. Notice that on one poll (Kol Israel) the margin between the two parties is down to only 6 MKs.