Bnai Brith Survey: Israelis Divided on US Role in Mideast Peace Process
By Staff Writer
Washington, DC – The seventh annual B’nai B’rith World Center Survey on Contemporary Israeli Attitudes Toward Diaspora Jewry found that the Israeli public is equally divided on the effect of United States involvement in the Mideast peace process over the last few years.
One-third answered that the United States has impeded progress, and one-third said the United States has promoted progress in the peace process over the last few years, with the final third saying they did not know.
Most of the survey focused on attitudes regarding relations between Israel and the Diaspora. An overwhelming 80 percent of Israelis strongly favored the use of their tax money to promote programs like Birthright or Masa that build support for Israel in the Diaspora by bringing Jewish youth and young adults to Israel. When asked the best way for the State of Israel to deal with violence against Jews in Europe, a majority felt it would be more effective to encourage aliyah (51 percent) than to work with local governments (38 percent) or to train the Jewish community in self-defense tactics (7 percent).
“This survey has shown the significant connection between the two communities and the extent to which they are willing to help each other,” said B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin. “There clearly is a strong interest in further building the relationship between Israel and the Diaspora.”
Israelis were almost equally split on whether Israeli tax money should be used to help members of Diaspora Jewry during times of economic crisis in the Diaspora, with 46 percent supporting and 43 percent opposing. When asked the same question in 2009, nearly 60 percent supported the measure.
Israelis seem to strongly favor finding an instrument by which to better represent Diaspora issues in Israel, with 56 percent in support of creating a “Jewish Parliament” that would represent Diaspora Jews (23 percent oppose). Eighteen percent would give the body the right to propose legislation to the Knesset and 25 percent would give it mandatory consultative status, while 40 percent favor the body having only voluntary consultative status. However, more oppose formal representation in the Knesset, with 63 percent opposing allowing Diaspora Jews to elect “a few” Knesset members to represent their interests (with 21 percent supporting) and 49 percent opposed to establishing a mechanism requiring the Knesset to hold debate on issues relevant to Diaspora Jews.
Israelis also strongly oppose allowing its citizens living outside of Israel to elect Knesset members (51 percent oppose, 29 percent support and 20 percent don’t know).
“This survey has demonstrated the enduring connection between Israelis and Diaspora Jews. Clearly, Israelis are committed to finding a vehicle for including and expanding the opinions and participation of Diaspora Jews in Israel,” said B’nai B’rith World Center Director Alan Schneider.
In his book, “Crisis of Zionism,” Peter Beinart advocates the implementation of what he terms a “Zionist boycott” against the settlements by American Jews. When asked whether American Jews should boycott Israeli settlements, 76 percent of Israelis disagreed and only 13 percent were in agreement.
The Internet survey was conducted June 20 with 507 Israeli Jews age 18 or older, and there is a margin of error of +/- 4.5 percent. The survey was conducted by Keevoon Research.
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The B’nai B’rith World Center, established in 1980, is the permanent and official presence of B’nai B’rith International in Jerusalem and serves as its public affairs arm in Israel.
B’nai B’rith International, the Global Voice of the Jewish Community, is the oldest and most widely known Jewish humanitarian, human rights, and advocacy organization. For 168 years, BBI has worked for Jewish unity, security, continuity, and tolerance. Visit www.bnaibrith.org.