Israeli viewpoint: Disregard Diaspora in local decisions

IDI poll: Majority of Israelis say government should not consider opinions of American Jews.

December 6, 2017 03:11
3 minute read.
MEMBERS OF Women of the Wall pray at the Kotel.

MEMBERS OF Women of the Wall pray at the Kotel.. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)


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A majority of Israelis do not believe the views of American Jews should be taken into account when making decisions, even on issues that directly apply to the Jewish world, according to the latest Peace Index poll, released Tuesday by the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) and Tel Aviv University.

Asked to what extent, if at all, the Israeli government should take into account the opinions of American Jewry when making decisions on domestic issues, such as the religious status of Reform and Conservative Jews, a majority (55%) of the Jewish interviewees responded in the negative. Only 39% favored the view that it should take their opinion into account on such matters.

Dividing the responses by how respondents define themselves on the political spectrum revealed that on the Right, a majority thinks the position of American Jewry on intra-Israeli questions should not be taken into account, while in the Center and on the Left a majority believes it should be taken into account.

The Arab public was divided in its opinions on this issue, with a slight advantage for those who thought Israel should take into account the positions of American Jewry. IDI officials said this was probably related to the liberal positions of many American Jews and their organizations, who in recent years have devoted great attention to the Israeli Arabs and have even invested heavily in developing educational and other facilities in the Arab sector.

The poll further explained Israelis’ views on Diaspora Jews by asking respondents about Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely’s recent statements that most American Jews do not understand Israel because they “never send their children to fight for their country” and because they do not know what it is “to actually experience what Israel is dealing with on a daily basis.” Fifty-one percent of the Jewish interviewees agreed with her words while 45% disagreed.

When looking at the participants’ location on the political spectrum findings showed, as expected, a majority of those on the Right siding with Hotovely and a majority of those on the Left and in the Center not taking her side. A large majority of the Jewish interviewees (71%) think Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who holds the foreign affairs portfolio, should not accede to American Jewish leaders’ demand to dismiss Hotovely from her post.

Close to half of the Jewish public (47.5%) thinks that what unites Israeli Jews and American Jews is stronger than what separates them, according to the poll. Only a tiny minority (12.5%) said they consider what separates them greater than what unites them, while about one fourth of the respondents said they think that the uniting and separating factors are equally strong.

Asked “To whom is it more important that the relationship between Israel and US Jewry be close and good – to Israel or to American Jews?” 49% of Jewish respondents said that the relationship is more important to Israel, 12% thought it was more important to American Jewry, and 35% answered that it was equally important to both sides.

Of those who described themselves politically as being on the Right, only 42% thought the relations were more important to Israel, compared to 56% and 63% in the Center and on the Left respectively. In the Arab public, a large majority (65%) said the relationship is more vital to Israel than to American Jewry.

The survey of 600 respondents, who constitute a representative sample of the adult Israeli population, was conducted by telephone on November 28-29 by the Midgam Research Institute. The maximum margin of error for the sample is ±4.1%.

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