The shift in perception on how America’s political parties support Israel may be afoot, a Ruderman Family Foundation study has revealed. The study was presented at the annual symposium of the foundation’s Program for American Jewish Studies at the University of Haifa this week.
But the discussion of the findings and the state of the relationship between American Jews and Israel featured three heavily left-leaning Israeli politicians and not a single right-wing one, which makes whatever their conclusions were (the press release didn’t say) questionable: Minister of Diaspora Affairs, Nachman Shai (Labor), who only recently revealed his plan to invest millions of Israeli taxpayers’ money in helping the Reform and Conservative movements in the US; Former Justice Minister and the force behind the Oslo Accords, Yossi Beilin (Meretz); and former Blue & White MK Tehila Friedman, whose roots are in the national-religious camp, but whose feminist agenda has moved her to the left.
According to the survey, although American Jews find 71% of Republicans and 69% of Democrats to be pro-Israel, the tide seems to be turning with 39% of respondents believing Republicans are becoming more supportive of Israel and 54% believing the Democratic Party is becoming less supportive.
Also on the panel were Prof. Menachem Mautner; University of Haifa Rector, Prof. Gur Alroey; and the head of the Ruderman Program for American Jewish Studies at the University of Haifa, Dr. David Barak-Gorodetsky. The seminar was moderated by Michal Reshef, a foreign affairs correspondent for KAN Public Broadcasting Channel.
“The increasing political polarization in the US Jewish community also shapes contemporary challenges in the Israel-American Jewry relationship,” said Jay Ruderman, President of the Ruderman Family Foundation. “Our research, education, and advocacy efforts in the realm of fostering greater closeness and mutual understanding between Israelis and Jewish Americans enable the world’s two largest centers of Jewish life to transcend the slogans and ultimately build a more authentic relationship.”
Dr. Barak-Gorodetsky said: “At the Ruderman American Jewish Studies program at the University of Haifa, we study in-depth the complex realities of the American Jewish community and believe developing and improving Israel’s relationship with American Jewry is a critical part of the academic world today.”
The program offers students and graduates the historical background behind that relationship as well as an accurate modern-day understanding of the realities on the ground to ensure their knowledge translates into improving the future of these two communities moving forward.
The program’s main objective is to explore how to maintain the critical relationship between Israel and American Jews for the benefit of Jewish people and the state of Israel.
I would say, step one: invite right-wing panelists.