J Street has just released its third annual poll (full pdf results) of American Jewish opinion. It contains some very interesting findings. Considering that the Aipac national policy conference began today and Bibi Netanyahu and every Congress member will be there showing the flag, it’s instructive to know that only 10% found Israel to be the most important issue as they confronted the next Congressional election. Only 2% found Iran most important. Keep that in mind the next time Bibi rattles Israeli sabers or asks Obama to give him bunker buster bombs to destroy Iranian nuclear sites.
Of those polled who favored the U.S. taking an active role in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, 66% would do so even if it meant the U.S. stated its disagreements with Israel publicly. 63% supported the U.S. “exerting pressure” on Israel to achieve peace. 44% (to 40%) felt it was acceptable to take Israel to task publicly when it acts in ways that embarrass the U.S. or tarnish our credibility. 60% felt that Israel’s announcement of construction of 1,600 new housing units in East Jerusalem damaged its relations with the U.S. 53% agree with those Jewish organizations (like J Street) which stated publicly that the Ramat Shlomo housing announcement was detrimental to peace and damaged U.S. interests in the Middle East. Only 47% agreed with those organizations (like Aipac) which claimed that Obama’s criticism of Israel was detrimental to the strategic partnership between two allies and that the U.S. should tone down its criticism in order to maintain such solidarity with Israel.
Unlike the AJC national survey, J Street didn’t poll people on their views about specific policy issues like Iran, settlements, 67 borders, sharing Jerusalem, two states, etc. If they had, no doubt, results might have appeared somewhat less progressive (or at least that’s what appears to be the case in the AJC poll). Regardless of that, the J Street poll indicates that Obama has carried along the majority of the Jewish community in his sharp response to the provocation that was the Ramat Shlomo announcement. And this runs directly contrary to Aipac’s approach.
A few questions about affiliation were interesting. 60% do not belong to a synagogue. 45% never or hardly ever attend a religious service. Only 8% called themselves Orthodox. Only 20% donate to “Israel-related charities” (like Aipac). 67% have never been to Israel. And something that should slightly embarrass those of us Jewish bloggers (and indicate the room for potential growth in our readership)–only 2% turn to blogs to learn news about Israel. The Forward at 4% and Haaretz at 6% didn’t do much better unfortunately. There was an interesting age differential noted in the poll respondents. The largest cohort, 19% was over 64 (55% were over 50!). The second largest group, 11% was 18-24. Hopefully, this will mean that 11% cohort could turn into readers of this blog (not that I want to lose my older readers)!
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