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Sick of Politics? Israelis Feel Nauseous Just Hearing the Word

Think you're tired of politics? A survey by the Israel Democracy Institute, an independent research group, found that a third of Israelis felt nausea, revulsion, or depression when they even thought about the word "politics."

In the survey conducted earlier this year, 1,201 adults were questioned in Hebrew, Arabic or Russian, and researchers found that only 60 percent expressed any interest in politics, a drop of 15 percentage points from their 2006 survey. When asked to make a list of trustworthy institutions, the army topped the list with political parties lurking on the very bottom.

One possible cause of the scorn? Israel's political scene has been rocked by scandal after scandal. From Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s troubles involving cash stuffed envelopes, a former justice minister convicted of forcibly kissing a female soldier, to 15 of the 120-seat parliament having been indicted, convicted, or are under investigation, the public’s trust is eroding quickly. The survey Institute’s president supported this, “The rise of antipolitical sentiment reaches the point of deligitimizing the political system and decision-making processes. It is not only about this person or that – it is the entire system. The Israeli public is turning its back on politics.”

Do you feel their pain? To see the affect of the government scorn,


Voter turnout has dropped to an average of 63 percent in 2006 from an average of 77 percent over the last 50 years. Some expect that turnout in the next election may not exceed 50 percent (for comparison, the US saw 64 percent turnout in 2004.) One newspaper columnist says, “The irony is that Israel as a society is the most democratic I know. It is open and free, yet politics went into such decay.” This glum attitude comes at a time when pressure in Israeli politics when is mounting — negotiations with Palestinians, talks with Syria, the looming threat of Iranian nuclear power, and the continual presence of Hezbollah — require more involvement, not nausea and revulsion.

Can political scandal cause a mass denouncement of politics? Wouldn't unhappiness with the current political system inspire more involvement, instead of less? Do you feel a touch of the Israelis' pain in your own political arena?


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