(photo credit: BAZ RATNER)
A poll released by City University London and funded by the British pro-Israel, propeace group Yachad has revealed that 73 percent of British Jews view Israel’s approach to the peace process with Palestine as being damaging “to its standing in the world.”
The poll, conducted by British polling company Ipsos Mori, was based on a sample of 1,131 British Jews, presents what Yachad director Hannah Weisfeld described as a community that is “shifting” with regard to its attitudes toward Israel.
While its findings make clear that for the majority of British Jews (93%), Israel plays a “central” or “important” part in their Jewish identity, it makes clear that the peace process is seen as the foremost issue. Fully 62% of respondents put “pursuing peace negotiations with the Palestinians” as what they feel should be the top priority of Israel’s government.
Highlighted in particular in the poll was the negative view taken by the majority of those surveyed with regard to Israel’s settlement policy, with 75% seeing it as a “major obstacle to peace.” On top of this, 68% stated that they feel a “sense of despair” every time further settlement expansion is approved.
Also notable was the changing attitudes of Jewish youth in Britain with regard to their perception of Israel. With regard to the labeling of food products from settlements, only 37% felt of those surveyed under the age of 30 feel there is ‘no justification for requiring Israel to label products produced in the West Bank’ in contrast to 68% of people over the age of 70.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post on the poll’s findings, lead author Prof. Steve Miller of City University expressed his surprise at the reality that “two things coexist [in the report] – these negative views of Israel, and the staunch defense and pride in its right to exist.”
Commenting on the poll, Weisfeld added that, “Feelings of despair, conflict between loyalty to Israel and concern over policies of the government are mainstream not marginal positions. The research shows we are more willing to speak out on these issues than ever before. Members of Anglo-Jewry who have previously been afraid to give voice to their concerns over Israeli government policy, should realize that they are in fact part of the majority.”
The sample was recruited using a combination of sampling techniques designed to maximize representativeness – the data were weighted to reflect the profile of the adult Jewish population of the UK with respect to age, patterns of synagogue affiliation, level of education and political affiliation.