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Israel withdraws loyalty survey of expats, U.S. Jews

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered two Israeli ministries to withdraw a poll asking expatriate Israelis and American Jews about their loyalties.

On Sunday, Netanyahu told the Immigrant Absorption Ministry and the Foreign Ministry to halt distribution of the survey after news reports of its contents were published in the Israeli media.

The Israeli daily Haaretz was the first to report on the poll, which asked respondents where they would place their allegiance in the event of a crisis between the United States and Israel.

The survey was commissioned by the Israeli American Council, a private nonprofit group based in Los Angeles that supports the Israeli-American community. Billionaire media mogul Haim Saban is a prime backer of the council.

Israeli embassies and consulates in the United States were asked last week by the council to distribute the poll via email, according to Haaretz.

The survey is part of the council’s effort to expand in other cities. American billionaire Sheldon Adelson has pledged to help fund the expansion, Haaretz reported.

Respondents to the survey also were asked to what extent they make voting decisions for president or Congress based on the candidates’ attitudes toward Israel, and the impact of American Jews and Jewish organizations on American policy.

It is unclear at what government level the survey was approved or whether Absorption or Foreign Ministry officials checked what types of questions would be asked, according to Haaretz. The survey had the symbol of the State of Israel on its first page.

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