Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

American Jewry in Transition? How Attitudes toward Israel May Be Shifting

American Jewry in Transition? How Attitudes toward Israel May Be Shifting

Executive Summary

  • The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs has been researching the attitudes of Jewish-Americans for the past two years. We may now be seeing a trend in Jewish-American attitudes that represents a narrower definition of “support” for Israel.
  • Our latest series of data shows moderately strong but less than enthusiastic overall support for Israel.
  • We found mild-moderate but clear expressions of “sympathy” for the Palestinians.
  • There is deep concern over anti-Semitism, dissociated from concern over anti-Israel attitudes.
  • There is a lack of serious concern for anti-Semitism from the left-progressive elements of society.
  • Despite some concerns, there is a willingness to associate with possibly anti-Israel movements.
  • Israel-related issues are not a deciding or “make or break” factor in the voting behavior of a significant portion of our Jewish-American sample. We found preferences for “pro-Israel” candidates in local elections, but not at the expense of other issues.
  • We found a lack of awareness of anti-Semitism and incitement to violence promoted by Palestinian society.
  • A distinct but possibly meaningful minority is opposed to or not strongly in favor of a “Jewish” Israel.
  • Overall, there is a general endorsement of issues associated with liberal or progressive thinking.
  • We found that the modal response regarding annexation is opposition (around 40%), although many Jewish-Americans either do have not enough knowledge regarding the issue (about 30%), support annexation (about 12%), or feel the Israeli government has the right to make a decision in this matter (about 18%).
  • In the wake of COVID-19, concern for Jewish community institutions ranks lower than concerns for several other issues, including health care, extremist and hate groups, personal economic situation, and immigration.
  • There is a distinct and major concern over the role of China in the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • There is considerable support for Black Lives Matter protests, including public display of “taking a knee,” despite awareness and concern that the BLM movement may lead to an increase in anti-Israel attitudes.
  • However, we found a marked reduction for being personally willing to support “affirmative action”-type initiatives. We also found a less marked reduction in support for defunding police and paying reparations to Black-American institutions.
  • These trends appear to be present across most age groups, with preliminary data suggesting that the trends may be present in younger modern Orthodox circles as well.
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Irwin J. (Yitzchak) Mansdorf, PhD., is a clinical psychologist and a fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs specializing in political psychology.
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