Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
Police detain an Ethiopian protester against police violence, July 15, 2019.

There are steep declines in the levels of trust of the Arab and Jewish public in all the components of law enforcement in Israel: the Supreme Court, the courts, and Israel Police – according to data presented by the index of public trust in the legal systems and law enforcement that was presented at the first Haifa Conference on Politics and Arab Society in Israel, held this week at the University of Haifa in cooperation with the New Israel Fund.

“There’s a process of convergence between the levels of trust of Jews and Arabs along the 22 years the index has been kept,” said Prof. Gideon Fishman, who presented the data at the conference, together with Prof. Arie Ratner. “But the convergence results from both Jews and Arabs being dissatisfied, with the decline in trust by the Jewish sector being steeper.”

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Prof. Ratner and Prof. Fishman of the Department of Sociology at the University of Haifa have been keeping the index for 22 years, since 2000. It measures the levels of trust of the Israeli public in the police, the courts in general, and the Supreme Court. The index examines the confidence level from 1-10, 10 meaning very high confidence; 1- deep mistrust.

“The findings are very worrying,” said Prof. Ratner. “Trust is an important thing for the functioning of systems and especially of law and justice. In our case, I don’t want to think about where we would end up if we continue down this slippery slope.”

The data show that the trend over the index’s 22 years is a consistent decline in trust, both of the Jewish and the Arab public. In 2000, 23% of the Arab public expressed great confidence in the police, compared to 18% in 2022. Then, in 2017, 30% of the Arab public expressed high confidence in the police, which suggests a sharp decline of about 12% in the last five years.

In the Jewish public, the picture is only slightly different: in 2000, 31% of the Jewish public expressed great confidence in the police, compared to 22% in 2022. But among Jews in 2020, no less than 32% expressed great confidence in the police, suggesting a sharp decrease of 10% in the last two years.

In Jewish society, men express less trust in the police compared to women: 24% of women express great confidence compared to 19% of men. In Arab society the picture is reversed: 19% of men express great trust in the police compared to 14% of women.

When it comes to trust in the courts, there is a much larger decline among Jews and Arabs over the 22 years of the index. In 2000, 46% of Arabs expressed confidence in the court compared to only 30% in 2022. Among Jews, the percentage of those who express great trust in the courts has dropped from 59% in 2000 to only 33% in 2022.

The decline in confidence in the Supreme Court over the years of the index has been even steeper. In 2000, 66% of Arab society expressed great confidence in the Supreme Court, compared to 39% in 2022. Among Jews, in 2000 a big majority of 79% expressed great confidence in the Supreme Court, compared to 43% in 2022.

Gender-wise, the picture of trust in the Supreme Court is similar to the picture of trust in the police. More Jewish women (45%) express great confidence in the Supreme Court compared to Jewish men (41%), while in Arab society the situation is reversed: more Arab men (40%) express great confidence in the Supreme Court compared to Arab women (34%).

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