Constructs: Building Knowledge of Contemporary Jewry August 2010

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Dear Friends:

The news last week that direct negotiations will take place between Israel and the Palestinian Authority ensures that Israel will continue to be a focus of ongoing debate, in particular among American Jewry. The attitudes of American Jews have been much discussed in recent weeks, and some observers have described a growing schism between liberal Jewish young adults and Israel. These views, however, have not been informed by empirical data. The study being released today, "Still Connected: American Jewish Attitudes about Israel" is part of our effort at CMJS to fill in the information gap and provide systematic data about contemporary American Jewish attitudes about Israel.

"Still Connected" is based primarily on a survey that was conducted in June 2010, beginning two weeks after the Gaza flotilla incident. Although some may be surprised at our findings (e.g., the stability in attitudes to Israel and the lack of correlation between political ideology and feelings about Israel), those involved in engaging American Jews and Israelis will recognize our respondents. We hope that the findings of the present study are helpful to all of those concerned with Israel and peace in the Middle East.

Leonard Saxe, Director
Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies
Steinhardt Social Research Institute
Still Connected
Still Connected:
American Jewish Attitudes About Israel

Theodore Sasson
Benjamin Phillips
Charles Kadushin
Leonard Saxe
To assess American Jewish views about Israel, a survey was conducted in June 2010 of more than 1,200 individuals who were identified as Jewish in a large national panel. The survey explores American Jewish attachment to Israel, in particular in the younger generation.

Among the findings:
  • 63% of respondents felt "very much" or "somewhat" connected to Israel. 75% agreed that caring about Israel is an important part of their Jewish identities. The findings, when compared to earlier surveys asking similar questions, indicate overall stability in American Jewish attachment to Israel over the past quarter-century.
  • Respondents under age 45 were less likely to feel connected to Israel but no less likely to regard Israel as important to their Jewish identities. Political differences on the liberal-to-conservative continuum were unrelated to attachment to Israel.
  • 52% of respondents characterized the current level of U.S. support for Israel as "about right"; 39% felt it was too little and 9% too much. Compared to a sample of likely U.S. voters who were recently asked the same question, American Jews were much less likely to regard the current level of U.S. support as too much. 
  • 61% of respondents blamed "pro-Palestinian activists" for the flotilla incident; 10% blamed Israel. Compared to a sample of U.S. voters recently asked the same question, American Jews were more likely to blame the activists and less likely to blame the Israelis. 
Read the report.

Read the technical appendices.
Read the technical appendices.
Read the executive summary in Hebrew.

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