US Jewish attitudes closer to minorities

Survey: Jews more concerned about race issues than general white population.

By NATHAN GUTTMAN
November 15, 2005 21:25
3 minute read.
american us jews march in israel parade nyc 298

jews israel parade 298. (photo credit: Channel 1 [file])

 
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A new survey conducted in the US found that the American Jewish community is much closer in its views to other minority groups and is more concerned about race issues, compared to the white population. According to the survey, which was done for the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, American Jews are strong supporters of immigration and believe that immigrants help the US economy and do not take away jobs from Americans. This view is shared by many in the Hispanic community as well, but not among white Americans. Only 44 percent of White non-Jewish Americans said they think immigration strengthens America. While over 50 percent of Jews and Hispanics replied positively to this question. The Jewish community, according to the survey, is also more sensitive to racial issues. Most Jews who were surveyed characterized the state of race relations in the US as "bad" or "very bad", just as the Hispanic and African-American participants in the survey did. But only 36 percent of white Americans seemed to think there was a racial problem. The Jews also shared with Hispanic and African-Americans a critical view of the Bush administration treatment of racial issues, while most white Americans felt Bush is doing enough in this field. The survey was conducted by Global Strategy Group among 1,388 adults with over-sampling of racial groups. Among those surveyed there were over 200 participants from each minority group. Although the Jewish Americans tended to be much more open to the notion of immigration and to the need to deal with racial and ethnic gaps in the American society, the Jewish community is not yet ready to change its own lifestyle, regarding ethnic diversity. When asked if they'd like to see more minorities in their own neighborhood, 60 percent of the Jewish respondents answered they would rather see things stay as they are. Rabbi Marc Shneier, President of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, said that the American Jewish community seems to be better prepared to respond to the demographic changes that the US is undergoing and that the American society needs to begin an open dialogue in order to deal with the new tensions created by the demographic changes. The Hispanic community is now the largest minority group in the US and according to demographers, if current population trend continue, by 2050 there will be more minority Americans than white Americans in the US. The new survey underlines the importance of effort carried out by many in the Jewish community in the past decade to reach out to other minority groups and to build bridges to the African-American, Hispanic and Asian American communities. Many Jewish organizations and local Jewish federations have special outreach programs and have designated professionals within the community to promote inter-group outreach efforts. According to Rabbi Shneier, the changing face of American population can also touch upon the issue of Israeli-US relations, with a growing number of minority lawmakers in both houses of Congress. This, says Shneier, emphasizes the need for the Jewish community to reach out to the new ethnic leadership and cooperate on all levels. The new survey shows that the Jewish community is in a better position than the general white population, to promote such cooperation.

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