The Peace Index, issued each month by the Evens Program for Mediation and Conflict Resolution (Tel Aviv University) and the Guttman Center for Public Opinion Research and Policy at the Israel Democracy Institute, in November asked a sample of 600 Israelis over 18 whether or not the Israeli government should consider the opinions of US Jews in making its decisions.
Despite the widespread appreciation of Israelis of the importance of the Jewish State’s connection with American Jews, when it came to the question of how much, if any, the Israeli government should take into account the opinion of American Jews in decisions on internal issues, such as the religious status of the Israeli Reform and Conservative movements, a majority (55%) of the Jewish respondents rejected the idea, and only 39% supported the view that they should consider what US Jews think about such matters.
A segmentation of the answers on the right-left continuum reveals that on the right there is a majority who believe that the position of American Jews should not be taken into account regarding internal Israeli questions, while among the center and the left, most believe that those views should be taken into account.
The Arab sector was almost evenly divided on the subject, with a slight advantage for those who believed that Israel should take into account the positions of American Jews: 48% were in favor of such consideration and 46% opposed it.
This must be a response to the liberal attitudes of many American Jews and their organizations, who in recent years have devoted great attention to Arab citizens of Israel, and invest a great deal of money in the development of educational and other establishments in the Arab sector.
Close to half the Jewish public (47.5%) thinks that what unites Israeli Jews with American Jews is stronger than what separates them. Only a small minority (12.5%) believes that elements dividing the two groups are more numerous than those uniting them. A quarter think that the unifying and the dividing elements are equally strong.
Among the Arab sector, 37.5% believe there is more in common between the two groups, while 21% believe that the separating elements are stronger than the unifying ones, and 22% believe that the separation and unification are equally strong.
Surprisingly, the survey found no difference on this question between Jewish interviewees on the right, center or left.
Finally, on the question, “To whom is it more important that the connection between Israel and the Jews of the United States be close and good – to Israel or to the Jews of the United States?” the following responses were received from the Jewish interviewees:
The highest rate (49%) said that the connection is more important to Israel, 12% thought it was more important to American Jews, and 35% said it was equally important to both sides.
In other words, there is a numerical advantage, but not a substantial majority who believe that the relationship is more important to Israel than the American Jewish community.
The political camps differ significantly: among those who defined themselves as right-wing, only 42% thought that relations were more important to Israel; in the center and the left, a majority (56% and 63% respectively) thought so.
In the Arab sector, a substantial majority (65%) believes that the connection is more vital to Israel than to American Jews.