Hoenlein: Loyalty survey of Israelis in US ‘inappropriate’

Presidents Conference head says Netanyahu right to withdraw document.

Hoenlein 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Hoenlein 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
A survey distributed last week by Israeli consulates in the US asking respondents to clarify their national loyalties was “misguided and inappropriate,” Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.
“The prime minister did the right thing by recalling it,” Hoenlein said.
The survey, which was sponsored by the Israeli American Council (IAC), a private nonprofit group based in Los Angeles that supports the Israeli-American community, was withdrawn on the orders of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday following a report in Haaretz detailing the questions.
The questionnaire, which bore the seal of the State of Israel, was aimed at Israeli expatriates and American Jews and inquired as to which side they would publicly support during a crisis in the US/Israeli special relationship.
Respondents to the survey also were asked to what extent they make voting decisions for president or Congress based on the candidates’ attitudes toward Israel and the impact of American Jews and Jewish organizations on American policy.
While Hoenlein, who represents over 50 American Jewish organizations, expressed his displeasure with the questionnaire, he also noted that “the intention, I’m sure, was a good one” and it was only in execution that the IAC took a misstep.
Asked if the revelation of the document’s distribution through official government channels, in this case Israeli diplomatic missions, would lead to accusations of dual loyalty on the part of American Jewry, Hoenlein said that he didn’t “think they were telling people what to say, they were probing them. It was probably distributed without people reading it or thinking about it.”
When contacted by the Post, the IAC stated that organization president Miri Belsky was unavailable to speak until Tuesday and that all other personnel who could speak with the press were “out of the country.”
However, a public relations agent retained by the IAC did tell Haaretz that “the government of Israel was not involved in drafting the survey.”JTA contributed to this report.