Photo Credit: Yossi Zeliger/Flash90
IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz speaks with new recruits, March 13 2012.

About half the Israeli public supports turning the IDF into a professional army that offers competitive wages, compared with about 20% that supported the same idea ten years ago, according to a survey conducted last week by the Geocartography Group among a representative national sample of Israeli men and women ages 18 and over.

The survey was presented on Wednesday in a panel titled “Professional army in Israel” and run by the former head of the IDF manpower directorate Maj. Gen. (ret.) Gil Regev at the Sixth Freedom Conference of the New Liberal Movement.

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Organized by the Israeli freedom movement, the Ayn Rand center in Israel and other partners, the conference brings together key liberal speakers, researchers, journalists, entrepreneurs and politicians operating and promoting personal and economic liberties in Israel. Among the speakers on Wednesday was Zehut party chairman Moshe Feiglin, whose notions on personal responsibly and eliminating the nanny state are catapulting him to a surprise success at the polls ahead of next Tuesday’s elections.

In response to the question, “To what extent do you support or don’t support the IDF becoming a professional army which will recruit candidates seeking a career that yields in a competitive salary as in the US Army,” 23.8% of respondents said they support it, and 24% said they strongly support it.

According to the survey conductors, respondents’ support for a professional army declines with age, but was relatively high among those with below-average income.

Among respondents ages 18 to 34, about 58% expressed full or relative support for turning the IDF into a professional army, and among ages 35 to 54 only 45% felt the same way. Support declined further among adults older than 55.

About 60% of respondents with below-average incomes expressed their support for turning the IDF into a professional army, while among respondents with average incomes only 37% approved, while those with above-average income 39% supported the idea.

Overall, as noted, 48% of respondents expressed support for turning the IDF into a professional army.

In a similar poll conducted by the Dahaf Institute about a decade ago, only 18% of respondents supported turning the IDF into a professional volunteer army.

Boaz Arad, CEO of Ayn Rand Israel and one of the founders of the New Liberal Movement, said that “these results are no less than a revolution: if someone had told me this a decade ago, when we first started the process, I would not have believed it.”

He suggested that most of the parties that are running in the April 9 elections have missed these data “big time.”

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