U.S. Jewish leaders split along politics on impact of Egypt changes

SAN FRANCISCO (JTA) — American Jewish leaders are divided along political lines on recent changes in Egypt, according to a new survey shows.

Most Jewish leaders looked favorably upon what they see as a growing interest in democracy and human rights in the new Egypt, but they were split on what that means for Israel, according to the Berman Jewish Policy Archive at NYU Wagner survey.

The split coincides with the respondents’ political leanings, with liberals hopeful that the changes in Egypt will lead to positive long-term results vis-a-vis Israel and conservatives fearing the opposite. A large number of respondents remained in the middle, unsure and ambivalent.

More respondents believed the developments in Egypt would be good for relations with the United States rather than bad, at 26 percent to 18 percent, but the majority, 57 percent, did not voice an opinion either way.

Respondents were less hopeful as a group about Egypt’s future relationship with Israel, with 32 percent believing the changes in Egypt are good for Israel, 20 percent believing they are bad, and nearly half, or 48 percent, not sure or undecided.

Overall, 67 percent said they were either “happy” or “very happy” with the changes in Egypt. At the same time, 80 percent of the respondents identified as Democrats with 14 percent describing themselves as Republicans; just 6 percent said they were politically “conservative” or “very conservative.”

“The feelings we charted vary remarkably by political inclination," said Professor Samuel Abrams, assistant professor of politics at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, N.Y. "The politically conservative, Republicans and the Orthodox feel very uneasy about these developments. In contrast, the leaders who identify as politically liberal, Democrats and Reform tend to welcome the developments with greater enthusiasm and fewer concerns.”

The findings emerge from 1,898 respondents to an online, opt-in survey of Jewish leaders conducted in March by Professors Steven M. Cohen of the Berman Jewish Policy Archive@ NYU Wagner and Abrams.

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