AJC Survey: 3/4 of US Jews say Israel is vital to ‘long-term Jewish future’

Three-quarters of American Jews say “a thriving Jewish state is vital for the long-term future of the Jewish people.” 

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Seventy-two percent of American Jews polled in a survey this month said that “a thriving State of Israel is vital for the long-term future of the Jewish people.” The survey was conducted on behalf of the American Jewish Committee (AJC).

However, the one quarter of the 1,006 Americans queried who said that Israel isn’t vital may be large enough to trouble some Israelis. Meanwhile, 35 percent disagreed either somewhat or strongly with the statement: “Caring about Israel is a very important part of my being a Jew.”

The poll did find that a clear majority (71%) of Jews feel a bond with Israelis. To the question, “Using the metaphor of a family, do you consider Israeli Jews your…?” 43 percent chose the answer “extended family.” Another 13 percent selected the still closer “siblings,” and another 15 percent “first cousins.” Twenty-eight percent answered “not part of my family.” One percent had no opinion.

Israeli policy

Although fully 59 percent of American Jews have never visited Israel, 57 percent think it is appropriate to try to influence Israeli policy on such issues as national security and negotiations with the Palestinians. Israelis polled disagreed with that statement by a two-to-one margin (63%-to-31%).

The survey confirms earlier polls that found Israeli and American Jews sharply divided over their views of President Donald Trump.

Fifty-nine percent of American Jews disapproved of the way the U.S. leader is handling the relationship between the two countries, and only half supported recent U.S. recognition of the Golan Heights as Israeli territory. In contrast, the Israelis approved of both by wide margins – 79 percent and 88 percent, respectively.

Israelis were far more hawkish on the Palestinian state issue than their American counterparts. Nearly two thirds (64%) of Americans are either somewhat or strongly favorable toward a demilitarized Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria. Only 39 percent of Israelis agreed  that even a demilitarized Palestinian state was a good idea.

Asked whether Israel should dismantle some or all Jewish communities in the territories as part of a peace agreement, a quarter of American Jews answered “all,” and 41 percent answered “some.” In Israel, only 6 percent said that their government should be willing to dismantle all of them, with a further 37 percent saying “some.”

A conference in Tel Aviv University on Thursday will discuss the survey’s results. It’s being held at The Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and Racism. The conference will focus on whether there is a crisis today between the two largest Jewish communities in the world, as well as the issue of anti-Semitism in America.