JNFA GA meeting inTel Aviv Tuesday Oct 22 2018.
(photo credit: JFNA/EYAL WARSHOVSKY)
Almost two-thirds of Israeli Jews think the prime minister of Israel has a commitment to Jews in the Diaspora, although they still believe his primary responsibility is toward citizens of Israel.
At the same time, however, 72% oppose the notion proposed by some that Diaspora Jews should have a vote or some form of representation in the Knesset.
The poll, conducted by the Geocartography research institute for the Diaspora Affairs Ministry, surveyed the attitudes of Jewish Israelis to the Diaspora, as well as Israeli attitudes when they find themselves outside of Israel.
When asked to whom the prime minister is obligated in fulfilling his duties, 62% of respondents said the prime minister should be first and foremost committed to Israelis, but should also demonstrate responsibility to Diaspora Jews.
Another 26% said the premier need only bear in mind Israelis, while 11% said the leader was equally obligated toward Israelis and Diaspora Jews to the same degree.
The poll also asked Israeli Jews whether Diaspora Jews should get to vote in Israel. Here, the answer was a resounding no, with 72% saying they should not be given the vote and 19% saying they should.
The survey also found that only one-fifth of the Jews in Israel (20%) know how many Jews there are outside Israel. (There are currently eight million.)
In addition, Israeli Jews greatly overestimated the percentage of Orthodox Jews in the US, with 63% saying Orthodox Jews comprise between 11% and 50% of the US Jewish community. The actual figure is just 10%.
When traveling abroad, some 38% of Israeli Jews said they did not hide their Jewish Israeli identity, while 33% said they mostly did not hide it, but on occasion did. Nearly one-fifth (19%) said they hid their Jewish Israeli identity most of the time when abroad.
Asked what Diaspora Jews living abroad should do in response to growing antisemitism in Europe and the US, 39% said they should immigrate to Israel, 31% said legislation in foreign countries should be passed to combat the trend, and 17% said strengthen the status of Jews in Europe.
The poll also found that some 48% of respondents said they would consider marrying a non-Jew if they lived abroad.
When asked whether or not they would marry a non-Jew if they were to live outside of Israel, 14% said it would not be a problem for them, and another 34% said they would prefer not to marry a non-Jew but would not rule it out. Fifty-one percent said they would never consider it.
Ilan Geal-Dor, the CEO of Gesher, an organization that promotes Jewish identity, said the connection between Israel and the Diaspora was getting more distant and that efforts to arrest this trend must be made.
“We must stop and ask ourselves the reason for this phenomenon. Diaspora Jewry is important to Israel, and vice-versa,” Geal-Dor said. “It is therefore vital that we place this question at the forefront of the public debate in the forthcoming elections, to ask what their plans are regarding the strengthening of ties with Diaspora Jewry, and how this will be expressed the day after the elections.”
Shira Ruderman, director of the Ruderman Family Foundation, which works to strengthen Israel’s ties with the Jewish community in the United States, noted that most Israelis do not know any Diaspora Jews.
“The greatest challenge of our generation is connecting Israeli Jews with Diaspora Jewry in general, and to the Jewish community in the United States in particular,” said Ruderman.
“Israel’s leaders have two important roles: responsibility for the citizens of Israel, and a commitment to the Jewish people. In elections, when the government looks for public trust, they must tell us how they see the relationship between Israel and the Diaspora, and how they plan to work to strengthen that connection the day after the elections.”
Dan Tadmor, director of the Museum of the Jewish People at Beth Hatfutsot, said Israeli and Diaspora Jews alike “share a common history, a common culture and values. [There is] a real need to expand dialogue,” he said, “to dispel many prejudices and objections.”
The poll was conducted on a sample of 500 Jewish Israelis in December 2018, and carries a reported margin of error of +/-4.3%.
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