Query-to-communication lifting theorems, which connect the query complexity of a Boolean function to the communication complexity of an associated "lifted" function obtained by composing the function with many copies of another function known as a gadget, have been instrumental in resolving many open questions in computational complexity. A number of important complexity questions could be resolved if we could make substantial improvements in the input size required for lifting with the Index function, which is a universal gadget for lifting, from its current near-linear size down to polylogarithmic in the number of inputs N of the original function or, ideally, constant. The near-linear size bound was recently shown by Lovett, Meka, Mertz, Pitassi and Zhang [Shachar Lovett et al., 2022] using a recent breakthrough improvement on the Sunflower Lemma to show that a certain graph associated with an Index function of that size is a disperser. They also stated a conjecture about the Index function that is essential for further improvements in the size required for lifting with Index using current techniques. In this paper we prove the following;

- The conjecture of Lovett et al. is false when the size of the Index gadget is less than logarithmic in N.

- The same limitation applies to the Inner-Product function. More precisely, the Inner-Product function, which is known to satisfy the disperser property at size O(log N), also does not have this property when its size is less than log N.

- Notwithstanding the above, we prove a lifting theorem that applies to Index gadgets of any size at least 4 and yields lower bounds for a restricted class of communication protocols in which one of the players is limited to sending parities of its inputs.

- Using a modification of the same idea with improved lifting parameters we derive a strong lifting theorem from decision tree size to parity decision tree size. We use this, in turn, to derive a general lifting theorem in proof complexity from tree-resolution size to tree-like Res(⊕) refutation size, which yields many new exponential lower bounds on such proofs.