'95% of Israelis think US Jewish support essential'

Poll shows most Israelis perceive US Jewish support of state as important; MKs fly to US to learn about Jewish community.

US and Israeli flags 390 (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
US and Israeli flags 390
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Five MKs from across the political spectrum arrived in the US on Sunday for a week of meetings with American Jewish community leaders in New York and Boston, as a poll shows that 95 percent of Israelis believe that US Jews’ support of Israel is important.
Both the MK delegation and the poll are funded by the Ruderman Family Foundation, whose Ruderman Fellowship aims to educate Israeli politicians about US Jewry and sponsored the foundation of the Israel- American Jewish Knesset Caucus.
MKs Ofir Akunis (Likud), Ilan Gilon (Meretz), Faina Kirschenbaum (Israel Beiteinu), Ghaleb Majadle (Labor) and Lia Shemtov (Israel Beiteinu) will meet with Senators Scott Brown (R-Massachusetts) and Chuck Schumer (DNew York), as well as heads of major Jewish organizations, and hold public events in New York and Boston.
According to the Teleseker poll, which was commissioned last week by the Ruderman Family Foundation, nearly all Israelis perceive American Jewish support of Israel as important. Half think American Jews care or care greatly about Israel’s treatment of women, 57.8% about treatment of Israeli Arabs and 38.8% about last summer’s social protests.
According to New York University’s Prof. Steven M. Cohen, a researcher for the Ruderman Family Foundation, most American Jews care about social justice issues, and the gap between this reality and Israelis’ perception is a reflection of their priorities.
“[Israelis] think that American Jews care about the issues that Israelis care about. To some extent, that’s true,” Cohen explained. However, he added, it is important “to make Israelis, especially political leaders, aware of the extent to which American Jews care about social justice issues, alongside their concern for Israeli security matters.”
Jay Ruderman, the president of the Ruderman Family Foundation, said the fellowship is meant to encourage this conversation and expose Israeli politicians to the American Jewish community’s priorities.
Ruderman expressed hope that the weeklong trip will increase the MKs’ sensitivity to and understanding of US Jewry and its implications for Israel’s security and future.