Nearly 75% of Jewish Israelis believe the government should not take Diaspora Jewish opinion into consideration when deciding on border changes, according to the third annual Survey of Contemporary Israeli Attitudes Toward World Jewry commissioned by the B’nai B’rith World Center – Jerusalem and conducted by Keevoon Research, Strategy and Communications.
The poll indicated that only 20.5% of Israelis believe the government should take Diaspora Jewish opinion into consideration when deciding on such changes.
According to the survey, 40% of Jewish Israelis believe Diaspora Jews should continue to be allowed to legally fund political campaigns and personally support Israeli politicians; 50% of those polled said such funding should be disallowed and that younger respondents where more inclined than younger respondents to allow foreign campaign funding.
The B’nai B’rith World Center survey also tested public support for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s recent announcement that he intends to perform a paradigm shift in the government’s Israel-Diaspora policy away from mass aliyah promotion in favor of “strengthening Jewish education in Jewish communities, including the study of Hebrew, increasing awareness regarding Jewish culture and Heritage; instilling Jewish values; and deepening the links between world Jewish communities and the State of Israel.”
The poll found significant support for the prime minister’s new policy, with 46.1% of those polled saying they agree with the new goals set out by Olmert while 38.4% said that the main goal of the government in Israel-Diaspora relations should continue to be the promotion of mass aliyah (16% did not know or did not answer). Those groups that represented above average support for Olmert’s new policy were Kadima voters (61%), Labor votes (55%) and Yisrael Beitenu voters (48%) while most religious Jews (52%) support the earlier policy.
'Israel responsible for fighting anti-semitism'
Speaking to the significant support found by the survey for Olmert’s new policy, B’nai B’rith World Center Director Alan Schneider said that this result was unexpected since little public debate on the issue had taken place before and since the prime minister’s announcement and since it runs in the face of six decades of official Israeli government policy to promote mass aliyah against all other Israel-Diaspora interactions.
Most recently, former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon repeatedly announced that his goal was to bring one million Jews to Israel within a decade – a goal his government fell far short of achieving. B’nai B’rith World Center Chairman Dr. Haim V. Katz noted that the organization has been engaged for decades in strengthening Israel-Diaspora relations and Jewish education and intends to support the prime minister’s efforts to make this the focus of a new Israel-Diaspora paradigm.
The survey also found that 82.4% believe that the recent series of investigations and prosecutions of Israeli politicians had had a negative effect on Israel’s image abroad – with 68.3% of these saying the effect was very negative. Only 8.6% thought the effect was positive (9.0% did not know or refused to answer).
Asked who bears the most responsibility to fight outbreaks of anti-semitism in the Diaspora, 43.1% of those polled chose the State of Israel while only 24.3% chose the local Jewish community; 22.5% said that both the State of Israel and the local communities bore this responsibility equally 10.1% did not know or did not answer).
At the same time, a vast majority of Israeli Jews – 76.4% - said that in their opinion it is safer to live as a Jew in Israel than in the Diaspora, with only 10.4% choosing the Diaspora as being safer (13.2% did not know or refused to answer.)
The telephone survey was conducted among a representative sample of 500 Jewish Israelis over the age of 18.