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Israel: Love it or leave it?

Israelis wrapped in the country's flag watch fireworks in Jerusalem as Israel celebrates its 66th Independence Day, on May 5, 2014. (Hadas Parush/Flash 90)

Israelis watch fireworks in Jerusalem as Israel celebrates its 66th Independence Day, on May 5, 2014. (Hadas Parush/Flash 90)

One in six Jewish Israelis would move to another country if given the opportunity.

That’s one of the many takeaways from survey results just released by the Israel Democracy Institute think tank one day after Israel’s 66th Independence Day.

IDI’s survey covers only Jewish Israelis, who account for about three-quarters of the population. Survey results that include Israel’s Arabs, which IDI generally includes, would have been more illuminating regarding what the population as a whole thinks about Israel.

But given that Israel’s governing coalition almost never includes Arab parties, a survey of the country’s Jews, for better or worse, gives a good sense of its political future.

The findings are mixed: On the one hand, large majorities of Israeli Jews are happy with Israel and optimistic about the country’s future. Seventy percent of Israeli Jews care as much or more about the country as they have in the past. Three-quarters are happy with the country’s achievements, and 73 percent are optimistic about Israel’s future.

But on the other hand, those numbers become less cheery when broken down into more specific categories. While about 80 percent of Israel’s Jews older than 55 are optimistic about the country’s future, that number drops to 58 percent among Israeli Jews ages 18 to 24.

Eighty-five percent of Israeli Jews are optimistic about their personal futures. But beyond feeling pessimistic, 17 percent told IDI they’d move to a different country if given the opportunity. Israel allows open emigration, and a variety of factors — from inertia to family to lack of a visa — could be keeping them here. But in a state founded as a Jewish homeland, one in six Jews would prefer to live outside its borders.

And while four-fifths of Jewish Israelis are satisfied with Israel’s defense policy, less than one-third are satisfied with what the survey calls “socio-economic matters.” Two-thirds want the government to focus on economic policy, whether by reducing inequality or lowering housing costs.

Those numbers could spell trouble for the government. If the current situation continues, with Israelis experiencing relative physical security along with rising income inequality, they may vote for a party more aggressively focused on the economy than Likud, the current ruling party.

The survey included 600 respondents and has a margin of error of 4.1 percent.

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