In June, journalism professor Peter Beinart re-ignited a long-simmering flame when he wrote about the widening schism between American Jews and Israel, particularly among young adults, for the New York Review of Books. Beinart wrote that the younger generation of American Jews is becoming increasingly alienated from Israel because its perceives the Jewish State as “a regional hegemon and occupying power”.
A new study from the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies and the Steinhardt Social Research Institute, however, shows that empirical evidence suggests otherwise. Still Connected: American Jewish Attitudes about Israel assesses American Jewish views about Israel based on the results of a survey conducted in June 2010, beginning two weeks after the Gaza flotilla incident, of more than 1,200 individuals who were identified as Jewish in a large national panel. The findings cast doubt on the claim of waning attachment to Israel over the past two decades and the assertion that liberals or younger Jews are cutting ties to the Jewish state.
Among the specific findings of the report, which is available in our Studies & Evaluations section:
- 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.