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American Jews support Israel but really care? | Jewish Press – Mida | 12 Kislev 5779 – 20 November 2018


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Prime Minister Netanyahu speaks at the AIPAC conference

{Written by Michael Yadov and originally posted to MIDA Website}

In a report published on October 16, 2018, Mellman provided a summary of his findings on the survey of political preferences of American Jews. The survey was conducted on behalf of the Jewish Electoral Institute. Survey respondents were subjected to a screening of Jewish identity and probable attendance at the general elections in November 2018. While many parts of the report may not be surprising, those concerning Israel are relatively instructive and, if they are true, they are relevant.

What does this survey teach us about the American Jewish view of Israel? We have found that 92 percent is considered to be Israel. In nominal terms, this is a huge demonstration of support. Only 52% of respondents said that candidate support for Israel is at least "very important" to them.

To reach a certain context, 52% of Israel was rated far below the High Court (90%), economy and employment (87%), general healthcare (83%), and "tax hikes" (80%). While individuals are entitled to their own political priorities, it is instructive that almost half of respondents (most of them considered to be Israel), Israel is not qualified as "very important".

In view of this, it is reasonable to question the meaning of "pro-Israel" political significance for a significant part of American Jewry.

The survey also provides an overview of President Trump's Jewish perception of Israel. Since then, the Israeli government has emerged as the most affluent US administration towards Israel. In many ways, the Trump government has changed the paradigm from previous administrations. Some examples of government policies towards Israel include the relocation of the embassy to Jerusalem, the Iranian nuclear agreement (JCPOA), the relentless support of Israel in the UN Nikki Haley, the UNRWA's acceptance of the role of its corruption and hypocrisy, and even remarkable changes to the Foreign Ministry's annual report on territories.

Given the above, it is reasonable to expect that the overwhelming majority of Jews who have examined Israel's support will give President Trump at least a credit at least for working with US-Israeli relations. Being objective, "pro-Israeli" Jewish voters who do not like President Trump can not disagree with the president, but they will have to count on substantial improvements in US-Israeli relations after Obama's fiasco (eg veto UN Security Council Resolution 2334). Only 35% of those who disagree with President Trumpe approve his treatment of US-Israeli relations.

There may be a form of cognitive distortion in the form of a corner; since respondents no longer like President Trump, they seem unable to provide him with a loan, even if it is well founded. And so only 51% of the respondents approve the president on this seemingly straightforward matter.

Moreover, only 6% of the Jewish voters stated that President Trump's Israeli policy would have sufficient influence to vote for him, despite differences over other issues. Another 20% supports the President's Israeli policy but says he does not agree with too many "important questions" to consider voting on them.

At the same time, former President Obama enjoys 72% approval, despite often conflicting relations with Israel. The message it sends to political candidates is that Israel is only a very important issue for a significant number of Jewish voters and that political gains could be made by using Israel to calm the anti-Israel crowd.

Interestingly enough, for many Jewish voters, any policy supported by a democratic party in relation to Israel is considered "pro-Israel" regardless of the perception of Israel's policy or its real impact. For example, in a survey of 56% of respondents disagree with the relocation of the US Embassy to Jerusalem, and 70% disagree that the president is working on a nuclear agreement in Iran. It is safe to say that the overwhelming majority of Israelis are firmly in the position of President Trump on these issues.

Therefore, it is clear that many American Jews can feel the love of Israel, but they do not have enough respect for the people of Israel to find out what is good for Israel. As such, many American Jews seem reluctant or incapable of appreciating as a pro-Israel policy that is supported by a clear majority of Israelis if this policy does not agree with its own political identity. In this perspective, at least some American Jews can see the degree of colonial alignment with the Israelis.

Regardless of its purpose, the Mellman Group study shows that most American Jews do not have enough political interest in affecting Israel's voice. For a significant part of the population, Israel does not represent an important political consideration either. Many American Jews appear to lack local perspective in the US policy of Israel, and they consistently agree with their party's policies as the best for US and Israeli relations. At the same time, American Jews tend to lower the Israeli perspective and do not fully know Israeli democracy.

In the end, it seems that a significant part of American Jewry considers it hypocritical to complain that Israeli leadership should take into account their subjective political views while ignoring the views of the Israelis (especially on national security issues), and yet Israel is a sufficiently important issue in spectrum of its own political priorities.

(Michael Yadov is Director of the American Forum for Israel and a member of the ZOA Fuel Teaching Team for the Truth)

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