According to a poll released this week, a clear majority of Israelis are optimistic about the new Jewish calendar year of 5768, which began with Rosh Hashanah just over two weeks ago.
56% of Israelis feel the current year will be better than last year for the State of Israel.
The poll, conducted by Keevoon Research, Strategy and Communications on behalf of the Yediot Acharonot news organization, indicated that Israelis are "overwhelmingly optimistic for the coming year." This general optimism encompassed respondents' views of their personal future, as well as that of the nation. Interestingly, the results of this year's survey were the same as those of the Keevoon survey from October 2006.
According to the latest poll, 56% of Israelis feel the current year will be better than last year for the State of Israel, while 20% expect it to be worse. 16% expect it will be the same.
When the results were broken down politically, the highest level of optimism for the nation came from National Religious Party (NRP) voters, of whom 82% described themselves as optimistic. In contrast, only 44% of supporters of the far-left Meretz party and only 40% of the center-right Yisrael Beiteinu supporters were optimistic for 5768.
"Meretz voters were the most pessimistic group in Israel," Keevoon researchers reported, "with 40% expecting [the new year] to be a worse one for Israel."
The poll data was also broken down by gender and age, with women more optimistic than men, and students far more optimistic than soldiers and retirees.
60% of women are optimistic about the country, compared with 52% of men. 32% of housewives expect it to be a worse year for Israel.
A minority of Israelis aged 65 and older, 47%, expect a better year for Israel. However, 65% of Israeli students are optimistic for the nation. At the same time, only 39% of another group of Israelis of about the same age, soldiers serving in the IDF, expressed optimism for Israel for the coming year.
"Religious self-identification tells an interesting story," the polling group noted, with 70% of national-religious Israelis expecting it to be a better year for Israel, compared to 62% of the Haredi religious, 57% of those defining themselves as "traditional," but not "religious," and 51% of those defining themselves as "secular."
A similar trend was to be found in the responses to questions about optimism on the personal level, as well. 84% of national-religious Israelis expressed optimism, while 71% of the Haredi religious did so.
The highest indications of personal (as opposed to national) optimism for the current year, with levels of 85% to 90% of those polled, were found among supporters of the NRP and the right-wing National Union parties, as well as among soldiers and students. 66% of Kadima party voters and 52% of Yisrael Beiteinu voters were personally optimistic.
Meretz party supporters "were the most pessimistic...."
In contrast, and similar to the results regarding optimism about the year for the nation, Meretz party supporters "were the most [personally] pessimistic, with 20% who expect next year to be worse than last year."
Geographically, residents of Tel Aviv and the south of the nation (which is a target for rocket-firing terrorists in Gaza) are more optimistic than residents of Jerusalem. 78% of southerners and Tel Aviv residents expressed personal optimism for the coming year, as compared with 66% of Jerusalemites.
"Overall, 75% of Israelis expect the coming year to be a better one for them personally. Only 7% think it will be a worse year and 12% think it will be the same," concluded the Keevoon pollsters.