Photo: AFP
US Jews
Photo: AFP

Poll shows deep divisions between Israelis and American Jews

77% of Israelis approve of Trump's handling of US-Israel relations, while only 34% of American Jews feel the same; meanwhile, 73% of American Jews support egalitarian prayer area at Western Wall, while only 42% of Israelis agree.

An opinion poll published Sunday shows deep divisions between Israelis and American Jews, particularly in relation to US President Donald Trump, highlighting the growing rift between the world's two largest Jewish communities.



The survey of the American Jewish Committee showed 77 percent of Israelis approved of the president's handling of US-Israel relations, while only 34 percent of American Jews did. Fifty-seven percent of US Jews disapproved, while only 10 percent of Israelis did.


The polarizing Trump recently recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital and relocated the American Embassy there, upending decades of US foreign policy and an international consensus that the city's fate should be decided through peace negotiations. The Palestinians, who claim east Jerusalem as their future capital, were outraged by the move and cut all contacts with the US in response.


Trump and Netanyahu during the US president's visit to Israel (Photo: AFP)
Trump and Netanyahu during the US president's visit to Israel (Photo: AFP)


Eighty-five percent of Israelis supported the embassy move, while only 46 percent of American Jews did.


The AJC surveyed 1,000 Israelis and 1,001 Jewish Americans over the age of 18 and had a margin of error of 3.1 and 3.9 percent, respectively.


The survey was released ahead of the opening of the AJC Global Forum in Jerusalem, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will address later Sunday.


Netanyahu has forged a close bond with Trump, and their hard-line policies toward the Palestinians have strong support in Israel and among its Republican backers in the US. But most American Jews are Democrats who are highly critical of Trump and Netanyahu. Experts have been warning for years that the two communities are drifting in opposite directions politically, undermining the kinship between the two groups, which make up the vast majority of Jews in the world.


American Jews protesting outside Palestinian mission in New York (Photo: EPA)
American Jews protesting outside Palestinian mission in New York (Photo: EPA)


The poll showed 59 percent of Americans favoring the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel but only 44 percent of Israelis supporting the idea.


The communities share similar views on the importance of good ties between the "extended family." But they differ greatly on matters of religion and state, particularly on the ultra-Orthodox monopoly over religious affairs in Israel. The vast majority of American Jews identify as either Reform or Conservative, the more liberal streams of Judaism that have a very small foothold in Israel.


Eighty-one percent of American Jews want to see the Orthodox monopoly on marriage, divorce and conversion in Israel broken, while only 49 percent of Israelis support the change in status quo.


In addition, 81 percent of American Jews support civil marriage and divorce, while only 55 percent of Israelis want the same.


On one of the most contentious issues, regarding a mixed-gender prayer area next to Jerusalem's Western Wall, 73 percent of American Jews express support, compared to just 42 percent of Israelis.


Reform Jews pray at the Western Wall (Photo: AP)
Reform Jews pray at the Western Wall (Photo: AP)


"The conclusion from this poll is clear, the Jews in Israel and the Jews in the US are facing fundamental disagreement about fundamental issues," said Avital Leibovich, the director of the AJC in Israel. "If we don't address these issues today and handle the challenges, the distance between the communities could potentially grow, with US Jews feeling no connection to the State of Israel."


She further warned that "a growing part of the young generation in the US feels that the State of Israel doesn't represent any values they believe in. This situation puts the future of Jewish-American support of Israel is clear danger."


פרסום ראשון: 06.10.18, 12:10
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