Friday, July 18, 2008


Richard Silverstein, Tikun Olam J Street has commissioned its first opinion survey seeking to determine the level of support among American Jews for territorial compromise and a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Arab conflict . . . One of the more interesting survey results was a mixed finding: when asked whether Israel played a "big role" in their election vote, 58% answered "yes." But when listed among a group of other issues, Israel came out in the bottom tier of issues and only 8% noted Israel was one of their two top issues in determining their vote for president or Congress. This interesting outcome indicates that theoretically Jews believe Israel is an important political issue. But when push comes to shove there are other bread and butter issues like the economy and Iraq war which are far more important. To me, this indicates that support for the Israel lobby is quite shallow among the Jewish community outside that 8% who are driven by the issue.

Obama beats McCain in the poll by 62% to 32%. This is a respectable showing by McCain compared to past Republican presidential races, but still quite low. Respondents disapproved of Bush’s Middle East policy and believe he should be much more engaged in lobbying for peace. 61% believe Israel is "less secure" than it was before his presidency. Only 26% believe it is more secure.

When asked whether the solution to the Israeli-Arab conflict involved negotiating peace agreements or relying on military force alone to achieve security, the survey endorsed the former over the latter by 50% to 34%.

Fully 75% of those polled believe that the U.S. should play an aggressive role in promoting a negotiated peace even if it meant disagreeing publicly with the positions of the parties to the conflict. 70% were even willing for the U.S. to exert "pressure" on those parties it saw as impeding progress toward a settlement. . .

Joe Lieberman isn’t going to like the following results. Only 7% of poll respondents view evangelical Zionist leader John Hagee favorably. Only 19% have a favorable impression of Christians United for Israel. Only 1 in 4 said Jewish groups should form alliances with CUFI. Finally, Holy Joe himself only earns a 37% favorable rating (48% unfavorable).

Regarding Iran: 69% said they were more likely to support a candidate who called for negotiations with Iran and resorting to sanctions if they failed.

Several results I found alarming: 48% were more likely to vote for a candidate who called for supporting Israel if it launched a pre-emptive attack on Iran. That indicates not enough American Jews understand that our national interests may diverge from Israel’s.

65% were more likely to support a candidate who said (falsely by the way) that Arabs have repeatedly rejected Israeli peace offers. Only 44% support the idea of declaring East Jerusalem the capital of a Palestinian state.

58% support Israeli withdrawal from the Golan in return for peace with Syria. 59% support withdrawal from "most" of the West Bank. 52% believe the U.S. should tell Israel to "end settlement expansion." 76% believe Israel should negotiate with Hamas on behalf of peace. 54% believe that IDF killings of Palestinian civilians lead to more terror. 61% are opposed to collective punishment (Israel’s current policy toward Gaza). 81% will support "any peace deal" agreed to by Israel with its Arab neighbors. One should keep this fact in mind when listening to the geshrei from the Orthodox community, which calls any territorial compromise on Jerusalem a betrayal of the Jewish people. Only a very small minority of American Jews agree.

Quite frankly, I was shocked that AIPAC itself earned only a 38% favorable rating (21% unfavorable). 60% say it does not bother them when American Jews disagree with Israeli government policy. When asked whether traditional Jewish groups in general do a good job of representing the community’s views on Israel 49% agreed. When asked specifically whether AIPAC did a good job that number fell to 34%. All this again showing the weakness of the AIPAC when it is viewed in the context of the overall Jewish community.


At July 18, 2008 2:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate headlines like "What American Jews Really Think". would you print a headline saying "What American Blacks Really Think" or "What American Gays Really Think"? Minority group does not equal monolithic group-think entity, a fact that it doesn't surprise me the mainstream media hasn't caught onto, but which I'd kind of hoped publications such as TPR might.

At July 19, 2008 12:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seems to me that the article is making exactly your point 2:59. Like it or not, there exists a wide spread perception that Jews can be described as some sort of 'monolithic group-think entity'. Such is the basic foundation of anti-Semitism, or any other kind of hatred driven prejudice---an initial premise that they all think and act alike.
The numbers provided in the article belie the notion.

At July 19, 2008 8:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Then why use a headline that would appear to underscore 2:59's point rather than one that would belie it just as much as the attendant article, 12:44?

At July 21, 2008 12:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Then why use a headline that would appear to underscore 2:59's point rather than one that would belie it just as much as the attendant article

Because 9-11 enshrined Zionism as the state religion.

At July 21, 2008 2:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, well...the above article may have tried to dispel preconceptions in the minds of TPR readers, but clearly, in some cases, education just don't take, do it now?

At July 22, 2008 10:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

2:59, if a similar survey was done on American Blacks or American Gays and revealed a similar disconnect between its results and "conventional wisdom", then yes, such a headline would be entirely appropriate.

At July 24, 2008 6:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Too bad, where Jewish opinion is concerned, TPR's been pushing the 'conventional wisdom' rather than publicizing the disconnect for such a long time now. Had that not been the case, people like 2:59 might now be less inclined to question the credibility of headlines like the above.


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