A survey found that 81 percent of American Jews feel same or more positively towards Israel over last 5-10 years, and that 65 percent are largely unaware of controversies over religious pluralism.

Pew released a survey showing how intermarriage is ravaging the American Jewish Community
Survey showing intermarriage is ravaging the American Jews. (photo credit: BRENDAN MACDERMID / REUTERS)


Contrary to popular belief, American Jews’ feelings toward Israel have grown more positive in recent years, according to findings of a new poll conducted by the J-Street lobbying organization this week.

The poll, taken on the day of the US mid-term elections, apparently contradicts the frequent dire warnings heard from elements in the North American Jewish leadership that Diaspora Jews are becoming increasingly alienated from Israel because of Israeli policies towards the Palestinians and on matters of religious pluralism.

The survey, conducted by the GBA Strategies research organization for J-Street on a sample of 903 Jewish voters with a margin of error of 3.3%, found that 65 percent of respondents felt either very or somewhat emotionally attached to Israel, compared to 35 percent who felt not very attached or not at all attached to the Jewish state.

Asked if, compared to 5-10 years ago, they felt more positive or negative, or the same, towards Israel, 55% said they felt about the same, 26% said more positive and only 19% felt more negative.

The survey did note however that Jewish millennials are more evenly split on their attitudes towards Israel than Jews 35 years old and upwards, but full analysis of those results has not been published yet.

Questioned specifically on how Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians has affected their attitudes, a potent issue that is often believed to have alienated US Jews from Israel, the responses were similar.

Some 54% of those polled said Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians had made no difference to their feelings towards Israel, 29% said more negative, but 17% said Israel’s policies had made them feel more positive.

And Jewish Americans even seem unconcerned about the combustible issue of settlement construction and expansion.

Asked about how “the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank” made them feel about Israel, 48% said no impact, and 19% said positive, compared to 32% who said it made them feel negative, meaning more than two thirds of Jewish Americans are unconcerned with settlement construction.

Additionally, a large majority of US Jews seem rather unaware of the controversies that have swirled between Israel and the North American Diaspora leadership regarding matters of religious pluralism.

Severe arguments over prayer rights at the Western Wall, recognition by Israel of Jewish conversion by different denominations, and other similar issues have roiled the relationship between Israel’s government and the senior leadership of the progressive Jewish streams and central Diaspora organizations in recent years.

But asked “how much you have heard about Israeli policy towards the non-Orthodox,” and specifically about Western Wall prayer rights, conversion and religious ceremonies, 65% said they had heard little or nothing and only 35% said they had heard a good amount or a good deal.

Of the 35% who said they had heard a good amount or a good deal, 50% said it had made them feel more negative towards Israel but the other 50% said it made them feel more positive or had not changed their opinion.

Feelings towards Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have worsened significantly however, with his favorability with US Jews going from +30 in 2014 to +12 in 2016, and has now dropped to a 9-year low of +3 with the prime minister scoring a 35 percent favorable/32 percent unfavorable rating of those polled in the current survey.

As reported by The Jerusalem Post