Not much division in community, according to ADL poll


Since Israel’s operation in Gaza began a little more than a month ago, there’s been some talk — fueled by criticism of the Jewish state’s actions by J Street and some other dovish groups — that American Jewish community opinion was not firmly behind the Jewish state’s actions. An Anti-Defamation League poll released Thursday indicates that was not the case.

The survey found that 79 percent believed Israel’s response to the "current crisis in Gaza" was appropriate, with just 17 percent believing it was excessive. (The full wording of the question can be seen here.) And 81 percent of those surveyed said Hamas was "responsible for the recent escalation in violence," to just 14 percent who blamed Israel.

Of course, one caveat must be mentioned: The ADL was not a disinterested observer in the Gaza crisis, strongly backing Israel’s actions.

The poll did find 63 percent of American Jews backing an independent Palestinian state and 66 percent who approved of Israel’s 2005 decision to withdraw from Gaza.

The telephone survey of 400 American Jewish adults was conducted Jan. 13-19 by the Marttila Communications Group, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percent. The complete list of poll questions and results can be found here. Below is the ADL’s press release, with a breakdown of some results by denomination (where there were no huge differences).

American Jews overwhelmingly supported Israel in its actions against Hamas in Gaza, according to a national survey conducted for the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).  The findings strongly contradict the notion that surfaced during the war in Gaza that American Jews were divided in their attitudes, with suggestions that many were critical of Israel.

 The telephone survey of 400 American Jewish adults was conducted between January 13-19, 2009 (with a hiatus Friday evening-Saturday for the Jewish Sabbath) for ADL by The Marttila Communications Group, and has a margin of error of +/-4.9%.

Survey Highlights

· 94% expressed sympathy for Israel over Hamas; only 1% for Hamas. By denomination breakdown: Orthodox – 98% expressed sympathy for Israel; Conservative – 96%; Reform – 91%.

·  81% expressed the belief that Hamas was responsible for the escalation of the violence; only 14% held Israel responsible.  By denomination breakdown: Orthodox – 84% held Hamas responsible, Conservative – 88%, Reform – 77%; non-practicing 77%.

·  Asked whether Israel’s response to Hamas rockets was appropriate or excessive, probably the major theme that has appeared in international critiques of Israel, 79% said it was appropriate, 17% excessive.  By denomination breakdown: Orthodox –  88%, appropriate, Conservative – 80%, Reform – 80% and non-practicing – 71%

·  When asked about Israel’s right to self-defense versus the need to win the “hearts and minds” of the Arab world, 79% said that Israel’s responsibility to protect its citizens takes precedence.

 “The survey findings strongly contradict those who disagreed with Israel’s actions against Hamas and claimed there was a sharp division in the American Jewish community,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. “The vast majority of the Jewish community clearly understands and overwhelmingly supports Israel’s effort to stop Hamas’ constant rocket attacks and cripple its terrorism infrastructure. The Jewish community is an open community where different views are welcome.  It was unfortunate that some seem to have an interest in exaggerating the level of disagreement on this issue.”

  ADL also explored American Jewish views of some of the key political issues facing Israel.

· Two-thirds of those interviewed indicated that they supported Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 and the same number continues to support that position today.

· 63% support the creation of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza while 32% oppose.  On the question of who is doing more to bring peace to the region, Israel or the Palestinians, 91% said Israel and 4% said the Palestinians.

   “The findings on the political issues speak of a continuing strong center in the American Jewish community that wants a secure Israel but also strongly supports efforts toward peace,” Mr. Foxman said.

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