NEW YORK – Forty-four percent of American Jews do not want President Donald Trump to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the American Jewish Committee’s Survey of American Jewish Opinion published on Wednesday shows.
The survey, conducted annually, is based on telephone interviews carried out during August with a national sample of 1,000 Jews over age 18. Questions covered topics such as respondents’ political stances, their level of satisfaction with the US administration, antisemitism, US-Israel relations, Jewish identity and religious pluralism in Israel.
Respondents included 9% Orthodox Jews, 16% who identify with the Conservative movement, 31% Reform Jews, 2% Reconstructionists and a plurality of 39% who consider themselves “just Jewish.”
When asked about the embassy, a majority said they oppose moving it. Thirty-six percent responded that they would be in favor of this, but at a later date in conjunction with progress in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Only 16% believe the embassy should be moved immediately and 4% are not sure.
Among those who do not want the legation moved, 51% are Democrats and 26% are Republicans.
On the subject of American politics, the AJC survey indicated widespread dissatisfaction with Trump’s performance in office.
Asked whom they voted for in the 2016 presidential election, an overwhelming majority replied Hillary Clinton. Just 21% of the sample have a favorable opinion of the job Trump has been doing, while 77% have an unfavorable view. The president’s score is slightly better on questions about how he is handling specific policy areas, but disapproval still outpaces approval by roughly a threeto- one ratio.
On immigration, Trump’s approval rating among American Jews stands at 23%, while 76% disapprove of his policies.
Regarding national security, only 27% approve of the president’s performance, compared to 73% who disapprove.
The same trend is observed when it comes to racial issues, US-Russia relations and the Iran nuclear issue, on which 26% approve of his performance and 67% do not.
AJC noted that there is a marked division of views between Orthodox and non-Orthodox Jews on Trump’s performance. Those who identify as Orthodox were the most supportive of Trump on Election Day and continue to give him high marks. Fifty-four percent of the Orthodox say they voted for Trump, compared to 24% of Conservative, 10% of Reform, 8% of Reconstructionist, and 14% of respondents who identify themselves as “just Jewish.”
“For many years, our surveys have provided insights into the thinking of American Jews on a range of critical issues of concern to our community,” AJC CEO David Harris said. “Particularly striking in our new survey is the fact that attitudes toward the president, both pro and con, have remained largely static since Election Day, and within the Jewish community the discrepancy between the Orthodox and other Jewish denominations on most questions is pronounced.”
Respondents were asked whether they approve or disapprove of the way Trump is handling US-Israel relations
Fifty-four percent said they do not and 40% said they approve somewhat or strongly When it comes to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s performance in this area, the results are more balanced: 47% disapprove and 45% approve.
In the current situation in the Middle East, 55% of American Jews said they favor the establishment of a Palestinian state and 40% oppose it, and a large majority also believe that compared to one year ago, the prospects for peace have stayed the same.
The AJC survey also recorded a significant jump in the number of those who view antisemitism as a problem in America. While in 2016, 73% considered it a problem and only 21% viewed it as “very serious,” in 2017, 84% say it is a problem, and 41% consider it a “very serious” problem.
The significant increase could also be related to the recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia, which took place in mid-August, as the survey was conducted.
Similarly, the proportion considering antisemitism on college campuses a problem rose from 56% in 2016 to 69% this year, and the percentage believing it to be a “very serious” problem went from 23% to 29%.
When it comes to religious pluralism in Israel, an issue that has been making headlines recently after the Israeli government froze its decision to open an egalitarian prayer area at the Western Wall and introduced a bill that would give the Chief Rabbinate a monopoly over conversion to Judaism, a clear disagreement was recorded among US Jews.
More than half of people surveyed believe that the fact that Orthodox Judaism is the only denomination recognized by Israel weakens its ties with American Jews.
An overwhelming 73% said they support a mixed gender prayer area at the Western Wall, and 76% said they are not satisfied with the Chief Rabbinate monopoly over weddings in Israel and believe legal recognition should also be extended to non-Orthodox weddings and divorces. About the conversion bill, 68% said they disapprove of it.
Despite this divide, 48% of American Jews believe that caring about Israel is an integral part of Jewish identity and close to 60% think that in five