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Israelis find philanthropy important

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Though a significant portion of Israelis believe social programs are the government’s responsibility, they see philanthropy’s role as a supplement in a positive light, a new survey says.

The recent public opinion poll at the Center for the Study of Philanthropy at Hebrew University of Jerusalem surveyed 800 participants from the three main population groups — Jewish, ultra-Orthodox and Arab.

Two in three general Jewish respondents and more than half of Arabs expect the government to initiate and implement social programs.

And while fewer than four in 10 ultra-Orthodox respondents agree, the vast majority of all respondents believe philanthropy should serve as a supplement, not a substitute, for government action.

Although nearly seven in 10 in the general Jewish category say philanthropy is motivated by personal interests such as political power ploys and reputation-mongering, these attitudes were lower among the other two populations, the study says.

All three groups, however, reported a generally positive attitude toward philanthropy.

Those with lower education levels and those with income that is average to below-average expressed more favorable opinions of philanthropy than did their better-educated, higher-income peers.

Contributions from Jewish communities abroad were seen in a positive light by almost nine in 10 of the general Jewish and ultra-Orthodox populations.

The report also analyzed attitudes regarding the roles of government and philanthropy during the Second Lebanon War.

General Jewish opinion split roughly evenly between the belief that philanthropy did what the government should have done during the war and the belief that philanthropic groups simply used the conflict to improve their status in Israeli society.

Only slight more than a third of Arabs believed the wartime role of philanthropists went beyond rhetorical statements, the study says, while more than six in 10 in both Jewish populations believed their role was essential.

The study was sponsored by the Tel Aviv-based B.I. Cohen Institute for Public Opinion Research.

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