Israeli, US Jews split on Trump, settlements, religious pluralism

These are the latest findings of a survey consisting of two separate polls of American Jewry and Israeli Jews conducted for the American Jewish Committee in April and May.

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June 10, 2018 11:15
3 minute read.
People hold U.S. and Israel flags as they chant during a Pro-Israel rally.

People hold U.S. and Israel flags as they chant during a Pro-Israel rally outside the Israeli consulate in New York November 19, 2012.. (photo credit: BRENDAN MCDERMID/REUTERS)

 
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American Jews, compared to their Israeli brethren, are more dovish, significantly less enamored with President Donald Trump, more supportive of religious pluralism and less likely to see their Israeli counterparts as part of their family.

These are the latest findings of a survey consisting of two separate polls of American and Israeli Jews conducted for the American Jewish Committee (AJC) in April and May, and published on Sunday morning ahead of the opening of the AJC’s Global Forum in Jerusalem.

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Opinion regarding Trump’s handling of US-Israel relations is sharply divided, with 77% of Israeli Jews approving of his efforts so far compared to just 44% of American Jews.

And 85% of Israeli Jews supported Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move its embassy there, compared with only 46% of US Jews.

There were also clear differences in approaches to peace with the Palestinians, and how to go about achieving it.

Some 68% of Israeli Jews said it is not appropriate for American Jews to attempt to influence Israeli policy on issues of national security and peace negotiations, while only 43% of American Jews had the same opinion, with more than half (53%) of them saying that it was appropriate.

American Jews were, however, less likely to oppose dismantling settlements in the West Bank for peace, with the majority of Israelis (54%) saying that Israel should not dismantle any settlements compared to 35% of US Jews.

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Asked about their opinions in current circumstances on a two-state solution through the establishment of a demilitarized Palestinian state in the West Bank, the two groups’ levels of support were similar, with 51% of US Jews in favor compared to 44% of Israelis supporting it.

Divides are also clear and significant on attitudes to Jewish life in the Jewish state. An overwhelming majority of 80% of American Jews want progressive Jewish weddings, divorces, and conversions to be recognized by the State of Israel, compared to just under half (49%) of Israelis.

The encumbered issue of prayer rights and access at the Western Wall also underlined a divide, with 73% of American Jews saying that a mixed-gender prayer area should be established at the site, compared to 42% of Israelis who are in favor and 48% who are opposed.

Less than half as many US Jews were less likely to see Israeli Jews as close family, with only 12% saying they viewed Israeli Jews as their siblings, compared to 28% of Israeli Jews who said they see American Jews as siblings.

But more American Jews said they did not consider Israeli Jews as part of their family at all, with 31% feeling that way compared to 22% of Israeli Jews who felt similarly about US Jews.

AJC CEO David Harris noted that the main factor for predicting how both US and Israeli Jews responded to the polls was how they identify religiously.

“The more observant they are on the denominational spectrum, their Jewish identity and attachment to Israel is stronger; skepticism about prospects for peace with the Palestinians higher; and support for religious pluralism in Israel weaker,” said Harris.

He also noted that American Jews who identify with the Democratic Party and voted for Hillary Clinton “are less attached to Israel, more weakly identified with the Jewish people, and more favorable to religious pluralism,” than the minority of US Jews who are Republicans and voted for Trump.

AJC’s 2018 Survey of American Jewish Opinion, conducted by SSRS from April 18 to May 10, is based on telephone interviews carried out with a national sample of 1,001 American Jews over age 18. The margin of error is 3.9%.

Their 2018 Survey of Israeli Jewish Opinion, conducted by Geocartography in May, is similarly based on telephone interviews carried out with a national sample of 1,000 Israeli Jews over age 18. The margin of error there is about 3.1%.

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