Monday, April 12, 2010
Here are the results for the question, "How close do you feel to Israel?" asked every year since 2000, with the links to the respective survey results for previous years.
The data give no support to the claim that American Jews are becoming disaffected with Israel. There simply was no shift, dramatic or otherwise in Jewish attitudes to Israel between 2008 and 2009, and the survey indicates no evidence of such a shift. Overall attitudes have apparently not changed since 2000 at least. About 75% of American Jews consistently answer that they are very close or fairly close to Israel, while about 25% are fairly or very distant. The 2008-9 Gaza invasion and the rise of the Netanyahu government did not produce any change in 2009 as opposed to 2008. Support for Israel peaked in 2005, when 76% in total responded that they are close or fairly close to Israel. It was lowest in 2008, before the operation against the Hamas terrorists, when only 67% responded that they were close or very close to Israel. 5% of the respondents said they were "very distant" from Israel in 2010, as opposed to 8% in 2008 and 2009, differences that are probably have no real significance.
We can anticipate that skeptics will claim that the survey is biased because it was conducted on behalf of a pro-Israel group or because the sampling methodology is biased. But the questions do not lead the respondents in any way, and the same question was asked each year and the respondents were selected in the same way, from the same sample base. There is no evidence that the survey for 2010 is more biased than the survey of 2000, which found, if anything, somewhat less support for Israel.
Obama and Israel - Fully 55% approve of Obama's handling of relations with Israel, and only 37% disapprove. Overall, Obama got a 57% approval rating. According to Ron Kampeas, "The American Jewish Committee poll of U.S. Jews found that Obama's approval rating is at 57 percent, with 38 percent disapproving. That's down from the stratospheric 79 percent approval rating among Jews that Obama enjoyed about a year ago, in May 2009. "
But Kampeas seems to be comparing two different polls. There was no AJC poll in May of 2009, and the AJC 2009 annual survey, which was released in September of 2009, does not seem to have had a question about overall approval rating for Obama.
In the 2010 survey 50% approve and 48% disapprove of Obama's handling of health care, and 55% approve and 42% disapprove of his handing of the economy. These are very low approval ratings, considering that Obama got 79% of the Jewish vote. However, the reason for this disaffection evidently is not the Israel policies of the Obama government.
The various proclamations and "evidence" of Brownfeld, Weiss, M.J. Rosenberg and other self-appointed experts on what American Jews are thinking are all attempts to encourage "bandwagonning" - getting people to support a position or politician because they are led to believe that that position or politician is supported by "everyone" else. Bandwagonning works, because group opinion is a significant factor in opinion formation, though it should not be, but there is simply no support in the data for the contention that American Jews are increasingly disaffected with Israel. There is also little indication of a massive Jewish shift away from the Obama administration due to its policies regarding Israel.
The data reported here are taken from the 2010 Annual Survey of American Jewish Opinion, sponsored by AJC. Among the topics covered in this survey are U.S.-Israeli relations, the Arab-Israel conflict, and the Iranian nuclear threat. Some of the questions appearing in the survey are new; others are drawn from previous AJC surveys, including the various Annual Surveys of American Jewish Opinion carried out between 1979 and 2009.The 2010 survey was conducted for AJC by Synovate (formerly Market Facts), a leading research organization. Respondents were interviewed by telephone between March 2 - March 23, 2010; no interviews took place on the Sabbath. The sample consisted of 800 self-identifying Jewish respondents selected from the Synovate consumer mail panel. The respondents are representative of the United States adult Jewish population on a variety of measures. The margin of error for the sample as a whole is plus or minus 3 percentage points.
A. Obama Administration
1. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling his job as President?
Approve 57% Disaprove 38% Not sure 6%
2. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling each of the following?
A. The economy
Not sure 3
B. Health care
Not sure 3
C. Homeland security
Not sure 5
B. U.S.-Israel Relations
3. How would you characterize relations between Israel and the United States today? Are they very positive, somewhat positive, somewhat negative, or very
Very positive 10
Somewhat positive 63
Somewhat negative 22
Very negative 4
Not sure 1
4. Do you approve or disapprove of the Obama Administration's handling of U.S.-Israel relations?
Approve 55% Disaprove 37% Not sure 8%
5. Do you approve or disapprove of the Netanyahu government's handling of Israel-U.S. relations?
Approve 57% Disaprove 30% Not sure 12%
C. Arab-Israel Conflict
6. As compared with one year ago, are you more optimistic about the chance for a lasting peace between Israel and the Arabs, less optimistic, or do you think the chance for a lasting peace is about the same as it was one year
More optimistic 6
Less optimistic 22
Same as one year ago 72
Not sure 1
7. In the current situation, do you favor or oppose the establishment of a Palestinian state?
Favor 48% Oppose 45% Not sure 7%
8. In the framework of a permanent peace with the Palestinians, should Israel be willing to compromise on the status of Jerusalem as a united city under Israeli jurisdiction?
Yes 35 No 61 Not Sure 4
9. As part of a permanent settlement with the Palestinians, should Israel be willing to dismantle all, some, or none of the Jewish settlements in the
All 8 Some 56 None 34 Not sure 2
10. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? "The goal of the Arabs is not the return of occupied territories but rather the destruction of Israel."
Agree 75 Disagree 20 Not Sure 5
11. Do you think that Israel can or cannot achieve peace with a Hamas-led Palestinian government?
Can 16 Cannot 80 Not Sure 4
12. Should the Palestinians be required or not be required to recognize Israel as a Jewish state in a final peace agreement?
Required 94 Not required 3 Not sure 1
D. International Issues
13. Do you approve or disapprove of the Obama Administration's handling of the Iran nuclear issue?
Approve 47% Disaprove 42% Not sure 11%
14. How much of a chance do you think there is that a combination of diplomacy and sanctions can stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons? Is there a good chance, some chance, little chance, or no chance?
Good chance 5
Some chance 27
Little chance 45
No chance 23
Not sure 1
15. Would you support or oppose the United States taking military action against Iran to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons?
Not sure 4
16. Would you support or oppose Israel taking military action against Iran to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons?
Not sure 5
17. Barack Obama has approved the deployment of an additional 30,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Do you agree or disagree with this decision?
Not Sure 4
18. I would like you to rate your feelings towards some countries, with one hundred meaning a very warm, favorable feeling, zero meaning a very cold, unfavorable feeling, and fifty meaning not particularly warm or cold. You can use any number from zero to one hundred. How would you rate your feelings toward . . .
a. Russia 54
b. India 64
c. Venezuela 42
d. Jordan 47
e. Turkey 52
f. China 49
g. Egypt 49
h. United States 88
i. Saudi Arabia 34
j. Germany 57
19. Do you think anti-Semitism in the United States is currently a very serious problem, somewhat of a problem, or not a problem at all?
Very serious problem 25
Somewhat of a problem 66
Not a problem at all 9
Not sure 0
20. Do you think anti-Semitism in Europe is currently a very serious problem, somewhat of a problem, or not a problem at all?
Very serious problem 51
Somewhat of a problem 44
Not a problem at all 3
Not sure 2
21. Do you think anti-Semitism in the Muslim world is currently a very serious problem, somewhat of a problem, or not a problem at all?
Very serious problem 87
Somewhat of a problem 11
Not a problem at all 1
Not Sure 1
22. Looking ahead over the next several years, do you think that anti-Semitism around the world will increase greatly, increase somewhat,
remain the same, decrease somewhat, or decrease greatly?
Increase greatly 14
Increase somewhat 36
Remain the same 41
Decrease somewhat 7
Decrease greatly 1
F. Background Factors
23. In politics as of today, do you consider yourself a Republican, a Democrat, or an Independent?
Not sure 2
24. Do you think of yourself as . . .
Just Jewish 37
Not sure 1
25. How important would you say being Jewish is in your own life?
Very important 51
Fairly important 34
Not very important 15
Not sure 0
26. How close do you feel to Israel?
Very close 30
Fairly close 44
Fairly distant 20
Very distant 5
Not sure 0
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