80% of US Jews say they are pro-Israel, study finds

Still, more than half of American Jews are critical of Israeli policy, with 39% saying that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s support for the US President made them feel less connected to Israel.

Flags of the United States and Israel (photo credit: REUTERS)
Flags of the United States and Israel
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The overwhelming majority of American Jews describe themselves as pro-Israel, and similar numbers say their attachment to Israel is as strong or stronger than it was five years ago, according to a new survey.
The poll, conducted for the Ruderman Family Foundation by the Mellman Group on a sample of 2,500 US Jews, found that more than half of the respondents defined themselves as pro-Israel but also critical of Israeli policy.
According to the survey, eight out of 10 Jews identified themselves as “pro-Israel,” and two-thirds (67%) said they were “attached” or “very attached” to Israel on an emotional level.
Additionally, more than 70% of the respondents said their personal relationship with Israel is the same or stronger than it was five years ago.
Although 80% identified as pro-Israel, more than half of American Jews, some 57%, identified as “pro-Israel but also critical of Israeli policy.”
There was a split between those who are critical of “some” policies (28%) and those critical of “many” policies (29%).
Less than a quarter (23%) are “pro-Israel and supportive of the current Israeli government policies.”
Controversies over Western Wall prayer rights and the lack of state-recognized religious pluralism in Israel has generated intense debate among leaders in Israel and US Jewry. But the results of the survey indicate that these issues have not had a huge impact on US Jews’ affinity for the Jewish state.
When asked about reasons for feeling less connected to Israel, topping the list was “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s support for President Trump and his policies,” with 39% saying it was “one of the most important reasons,” followed by increasing power of the religious Right in Israel (33%), treatment of the Palestinians (25%) and settlements (24%).
Few saw a lack of “mutual understanding or shared values” as one of the most important reasons.
“It appears doomsday talks about an irreversible chasm between Israel and the American Jewish community were mistaken,” Jay Ruderman, president of the Ruderman Family Foundation, said in response to the poll.
“An overwhelming 80% of American Jews feel an attachment to Israel, including most nonaffiliated and younger Jews,” he said. “The time has come to diversify the discourse between the sides, bringing new faces and new ideas to the table. This relationship is more than politics and Jewish religious practices – and the conversation needs to reflect this simple reality.”
The survey showed a clear link to community engagement and attachment to Israel.
Among those who said they were “very engaged” in Jewish community organizations, 90% have an emotional attachment with Israel, and 67% say they are “very” attached.
Of those who said they were “not at all engaged,” only 42% said they felt an attachment to Israel.