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WILL THE bonds with the Diaspora break? .(Photo by: REUTERS)
Israelis are ‘ignorant' of world Jewry and its concerns - new survey
By MAAYAN JAFFE-HOFFMAN
07/22/2019
Less than 30% of Israelis know about the Kotel compromise
Only around one in four Israelis know about the Western Wall compromise to create an egalitarian prayer section, according to a survey released Monday by the Reut Group.

“The poll validates the ignorance of Israelis regarding world Jewry,” said Reut Group CEO Eran Shayshon.
The survey of more than 500 random members of the public – administered via Internet by Midgam Consulting and Research – was meant to provide insight into how Israelis feel about the Diaspora Jewish community and if they follow issues important to it, explained Rushinek Research and Strategy CEO Oshik Rushinek, who helped spearhead the survey.

The survey was conducted in advance of a Peoplehood Coalition gathering in Tel Aviv on Monday. The Peoplehood Coalition is a group of leading Israeli organizations, individuals and thought leaders dedicated to realizing the country’s core mission as the nation-state of the Jewish people.

One in four seems contradictory to earlier studies regarding opinion about the Kotel compromise. In 2016, for example, a significant majority of Jewish Israelis said they would like for there to be a site for egalitarian prayer at the Western Wall, near Robinson’s Arch, according to a Smith Research poll taken for The Magazine. The poll found that 61% favor creating such a site.

Rushinek said he does not believe there is a contradiction between the two surveys. “I think that we have to admit there is a big difference between expressing your opinion and really knowing what something is about,” he said. “It is shallowness.”

The survey also asked the public how it feels about a statement made during a government meeting earlier this month by Education Minister Rabbi Rafi Peretz that the massive scale of assimilation among world Jews, especially in the US, is akin to “a second Holocaust.” A quarter of respondents think that Peretz was right.

However, Shayshon said there was hope in the survey, too. For example, more than 65% of respondents feel that the millions of shekels invested by the government in free trips to Israel for young Diaspora adults via Taglit-Birthright Israel was well spent.

“This opposes the common misconception that Israelis tend to give a cold shoulder to world Jewry and even prefer more conservative, non-Jewish constituencies,” Shayshon said.

Rushinek added that “This has changed in the last 20 or 30 years,” recalling that former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin called Israelis living outside the country “cowards.” Rushinek said that today, Israelis are more “open-minded” to yeridah (“going down,” the opposite of aliyah). In general, according to the survey, women are more open-minded than men and younger Israelis are more open-minded than their older counterparts, he said.

Additionally, 82% of respondents are not opposed to Israelis living abroad; however, 70% said that if Israelis do live outside the Holy Land, they should associate with their local Jewish community. Shayshon noted that although 70% of respondents said it is important to associate with the Jewish community outside Israel, anecdotally Jewish organizations know that most Israelis do not engage closely with their local Jewish communities.

“This shows how different our perceptions are of the makeup of world Jewry and what constitutes Jewish community,” Shayshon said, noting that the gap needs to be bridged urgently. “If we do not act now to strengthen ties, we may find ourselves in an irreversible crisis that will lead to the end of support for Israel, not only in the economy, but also diplomacy, as well as in the delegitimization of the state as the home of the Jewish people.”
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