US Jews support Israel, don't speak up

New poll also finds backing strong among day school grads, older Jews.

By NATHAN GUTTMAN
December 1, 2005 21:30
3 minute read.
US Jews support Israel, don't speak up

pro-israel support US298. (photo credit: AP)

 
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US Jews are strong supporters of Israel but usually tend to refrain from defending Israel publicly. This is one of the main conclusions of a new poll that surveyed the views of American Jews. The poll was commissioned by The Israel Project, a pro-Israel public advocacy group and was conducted by pollster Frank Luntz. Among the 800 American Jews that took part in the survey, 82% said they support Israel, most of them characterizing themselves as strong supporters. Analyzing the supporters, Luntz found that backing Israel is stronger among older Jews, among those who belong to the Conservative movement and among Jews who attended Jewish day schools and visited Israel. While the support for Israel seemed solid, pollster Luntz warned from "disturbing signs that support could shift in the wrong direction". He noted that one in five American Jews does not support Israel in questions concerning its conflict with the Palestinians. "Every day people are dying and in this conflict I would like to see 90% backing Israel", he added. But even with significant support rates for Israel in the American Jewish community, the poll finds a problem in translating this support to an active pro-Israeli discourse in the American society. When asked if they engage in conversation about Israel or defend Israel while talking to non-Jews, most of the participants replied negatively. Only 29% talk about Israel frequently, while 61% almost never do so. This finding is significant because it demonstrates the difficulty of promoting a pro-Israel agenda in the US, where, according to another poll performed by The Israel Project, graduate students in the US "are misinformed about the Arab-Israeli conflict and hold negative attitudes towards Jews". The poll, published in Washington Thursday, found that most of the younger Jews get their information about Israel mostly from the media and the internet, as opposed to the older generation who learned about Israel from parents, schools and temples. Jennifer Laszlo-Mizrahi, president and founder of The Israel Project pointed out that these findings underline the need for Jewish parents taking a stronger role in educating their children about Israel and for the whole community to make sure that the media portrays Israel in an accurate fashion. Frank Luntz found in the survey he conducted that if young Jews are exposed to information on Israel before they turn 10 years old, they tend to hold positive views on Israel, while those who learn on Israel in high school or college, usually develop negative views. The reason is that while young children learn about the history, people and religion in Israel, the older learn about Israel with a focus on politics and on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

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