New poll: Dialogue desirable even with Diaspora critics

Half of Israelis surveyed hail non-Jewish support; findings contrast unofficial gov't policy of blackballing left-leaning Jewish groups like J Street.

June 20, 2011 02:58
3 minute read.
B'nei Brith poll

B'nei Brith poll 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)


Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

Israel should engage in dialogue with Jewish groups in the Diaspora even if they are critical of its policies, a majority of Israeli respondents said in a poll released on Sunday.

According to a survey commissioned by B’nai B’rith, 71 percent of the Israeli-Jewish respondents said Israel should always be ready to meet and maintain contact with Jewish organizations – including those that question its decisions – while only 20 percent opposed.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.

Left-leaning J Call ready for first European conference
J Street leaders to meet Peres, Abbas

The findings seemingly contrast with the government’s unofficial policy of blackballing left-leaning Jewish groups like J Street in the US and J Call in Europe by refusing to allow diplomats and coalition members to attend their conferences.

“This poll underscores what we have always said, which is that even if an Israeli government disagrees with the criticism or alternative policies put forward by Jews living abroad, it still must engage with them, said Jeremy Ben-Ami, President of J Street.

“This failure, coupled with ad hominem attacks, is a distraction from the real challenges we all face, which is how we protect the existence of a democratic and Jewish Israel.

“At a time when the state and people of Israel are finding themselves more and more isolated internationally, the appropriate response to criticism would be to welcome the debate, engage in an open and candid discussion and not to seek to impose litmus tests based on loyalty or the content of one’s views.”

“Perhaps the government would better serve the interests of Israel by following the lead of the Israeli people, as shown by this poll, on this particular issue.”

“The results of the survey were significant and really demonstrate the close connection between Israelis and Diaspora Jewry,” Alan Schneider, the director for B’nai B’rith World Center in Jerusalem, said. “For the first time, we were able to establish not just strong support and identification of Israelis with the Diaspora that has been demonstrated in our earlier surveys, but to show the extent of actual family connections. This shows us that Diaspora Jewry is a part of most Israelis’ daily life and concerns.”

While Israelis may feel close to their co-religionists living abroad, 51 percent of respondents were against giving citizens residing outside the country the right to vote in absentee ballots.

The poll found that one of the ways that Israeli-Jews connect with their Jewish identity takes place abroad. Sixty-nine percent of respondents said they make it a priority to visit Jewish sites while on vacation outside the country.

The survey also asked how they feel about receiving support from non-Jews. Over the past decades, the Christian- Zionist community in America has been an ardent supporter of the Jewish State, donating millions through groups, like the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, and lobbying lawmakers in the US to back Jerusalem politically. Half of those polled supported the continued development of the relationship.

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, the founder of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, said the numbers were a positive show of support for his organization’s mission.

“When I started off 30 years ago 100 percent of Israelis were against it,” he said. “We’ve seen a steady rise in numbers of support from Israelis and I expect them to grow further in the future.”

He cited a poll conducted on behalf of his own charity showing 70 percent of Israelis were in favor of accepting the support of Christian-Zionists, “including haredim,” he said.

On the issue of Jonathan Pollard, 75 percent of the respondents urged the Jewish-American community to do more to bring about his release.

The survey conducted by Kevoon between June 13 and 15 polled 500 Jewish-Israelis and had a deviation percentage of 4.5 percent.

Related Content

Joan Rivers
August 28, 2014
Joan Rivers rushed to hospital following throat surgery