Pro-Israel supporter in New York City.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Carlo Allegri)
Most Israelis think the government should totally or mostly disregard US Jewry’s
positions on the peace process and religious affairs, according to a poll
Of the Israelis polled, 31.9 percent think Israeli
leaders should not take into account the positions of American Jews on the peace
process at all, and 33.6% said US Jewry’s views should be considered to a small
extent. Only 21.6% called for those views to be taken into account to a great
extent, and 9.4 to a very great extent.
On religious issues, such as
conversion or the government’s relations with the Conservative and Reform
movements, 24% of Israelis were against taking US Jewry’s positions into
account, and 30.6% said they should be considered to a small extent. Still,
Israelis are more willing to accept input from American Jews on religious issues
than on the peace process, with 25.1% saying it should be taken into account to
a great extent and 15.2% responding to a very great extent.
The poll was
conducted by Teleseker and commissioned by The Ruderman Family Foundation, which
seeks to strengthen relationships between Israel and the US Jewish community,
ahead of the launch of a Knesset caucus led by MK Nachman Shai
According to the poll’s results, 66.3% of Israelis see the
Jewish community in the US as having a very or somewhat positive influence on
Israel’s national security.
In addition, 76% of Israelis responded that
American Jewry’s support for Israel in the future will remain at the level it is
today or even grow stronger. However, when asked whether American Jews feel a
meaningful connection to Israel, 51% felt that half or less than half of US
Jewry feel that connection.
Professor Steven M. Cohen of Hebrew Union
College analyzed the poll for The Ruderman Family Foundation, explaining that
“based upon both these results and other evidence, we can say that Israeli Jews’
views on their society’s relationship with American Jews are diverse, but not
“The Israeli public displays a wide variety of opinions
regarding the advisability of taking American Jews’ positions into account, the
strength of connection of US Jews with Israel and the sustainability of that
connection,” he added.
Cohen advised that policymakers concerned with the
connection between Israel and American Jewry “have a free hand,” as they lack
pressure from the Israeli public to call attention to a growing problem, while
there is no strong majority blocking efforts to improve relations.
new caucus aims to educate legislators about the evolving American Jewish
community, how US Jews view Israel and how this affects overall support for
“Our intent is to reveal to MKs the depth of relations between
the two countries,” Shai explained. “The US and Israel have shared values and
interests that draw us together. We hope that by broadening their
knowledge and familiarizing Knesset members with the US community, this will
help MKs in their parliamentary roles.”
According to Ruderman Family
Foundation president Jay Ruderman, it is essential for Israeli leaders to
understand the American Jewish community, since the majority of worldwide Jewry
is split between Israel and the US.
“Israel relies on the political,
military and diplomatic support of the United States, and the American Jewish
community is responsible in large part for this support, so it makes sense from
a strategic viewpoint for Israeli leaders to understand this important
community’s connection to Israel and the changes that may be occurring in that
connection,” Ruderman stated.
The caucus’s official launch will take
place Tuesday morning in the Knesset, with Dan Kurtzer and Moshe Arens, former
ambassadors to Israel and the US respectively, speaking at the event.
of the issues the caucus plans to discuss is whether Israel can sustain the $3
billion in aid it receives from the US each year, and whether that support is
guaranteed to continue.