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February 17, 2015 1:17 am

Exposing J Street’s Phony Poll on Iran

avatar by Moshe Phillips and Benyamin Korn

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Iran's President Hassan Rouhani at the World Economic Forum. Photo: Screenshot.

This week, viewers of CNN were informed by anchor Erin Burnett of what she called “a historically momentous event”: 84% of American Jews support President Obama’s position on a nuclear deal with Iran, Burnett declared.

But the claim is a fraud.

Burnett was interviewing Israeli cabinet minister Naftali Bennett, who argued that the weak terms President Obama is proposing to Iran will leave Teheran with the capability to develop nuclear weapons in a short time. So Burnett swooped in with what she undoubtedly thought would be a “gotcha” moment.

Burnett said she was “fascinated” to learn that “Israeli Jews and American Jews do not seem to see things the same way” on Iran. Her proof: “The influential Jewish lobbying group J Street” – note the absence of any acknowledgment that J Street is a strident left-wing opponent of the Israeli government – carried out a poll which asked American Jews “if they supported a nuclear deal with Iran, a deal that would allow Iran to enrich nuclear material, and 84% of American Jews said yes.” This trend, she concluded, is “a historically momentous event.”

“Allow Iran to enrich nuclear material”? Is it possible that 84% of American Jews would endorse such a position, which sounds as if they are willing to risk Iran turning that enriched material into nuclear weapons?

No, it’s not possible. The number is the result of a rigged question, which in turn is being manipulated by J Street and its supporters – including Erin Burnett – to advance their argument.

The poll was taken three months ago. The Iran question was one of numerous questions asked of 800 Jewish voters leaving the polls after they voted in the November 2014 midterm elections.

But before analyzing what the poll asked about Iran, there is another important aspect to consider. One of the first questions asked the respondent to name two issues that “were the most important for you in deciding your vote for Congress today.” Fourteen foreign and domestic issues were listed. Iran came in dead last. What percentage of these Jewish voters considered Iran to be even one of their two top issues?  Zero. Not one person chose it.

If Iran was not a major issue of concern to the respondents, it also means that many of the respondents are probably not very well informed on the details of the issue. After all, you don’t read up in detail on issues that are not important to you. In other words, the people J Street was asking about Iran were the ones who likely knew the least about what they were being asked.

By way of comparison, consider the response to questions about the 2014 Gaza war. The poll asked: “How closely did you follow the news about the military conflict between Israel and Hamas this summer?” 82% said they followed it “very closely” or “somewhat closely.” These well-informed voters were then asked whether they approved or disapproved of “Israel’s military action, known as Operation Protective Edge, that took place in Gaza this summer?”  80% said they strongly or somewhat approved. There was a direct correlation between being well informed and supporting Israel’s position.

Now back to Iran.

The poll asked respondents if they had heard of the “first step agreement with Iran to limit Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for modest relief from sanctions.” Only 16% had heard “a great deal of information” about it. Another 48% said they heard “some information.” Of course, “some” could mean almost anything.

From there, the pollster went straight into fantasy-land. Instead of asking if the respondent knew anything about the terms that the Obama Aadministration is now proposing to Iran, they asked about an imaginary agreement that J Street concocted:

“Now, imagine that the U.S., Britain, Germany, France, China, Russia, and Iran reach a final agreement, which restricts Iran’s enrichment of uranium to levels that are suitable for civilian energy purposes only, and places full-time international inspectors at Iranian nuclear facilities to make sure that Iran is not developing nuclear weapons. Under this agreement, the United States and our allies will reduce sanctions on Iran as Iran meets the compliance benchmarks of the agreement. Would you support or oppose this agreement?”

Get it? What J Street offered the respondents was an agreement that would be so wonderful that Israel would support it as much as the Obama Administration. Iran would use its uranium for “civilian purposes only.” There would be inspectors (full-time!) “to make sure” they would never develop nuclear weapons. In short, the Free World would got everything it wants without having to do anything except gradually reduce sanctions.

Well, of course most American Jews would support that. In fact, it’s surprising that the numbers were not even larger than the 32% “strongly support” and 52% “somewhat support” that J Street was able to gin up.

J Street’s tweets trumpeting the poll results engaged in maximum spin. One declared that the poll found “strong support for progress made by P5+1.” Another announced: “84% of American Jewish voters support an Iran agreement along the lines of what the P5+1 is reportedly negotiating.”

But of course it was nothing of the sort. It was support for J Street’s imaginary agreement. In the real world, the whole problem is precisely that the Obama Administration is not insisting on terms that would genuinely make it impossible for the Iranians to ever develop nuclear weapons. Numerous news reports indicate that the Administration is going to let the Iranians keep the machinery needed to make weapons, and trust in Teheran’s assurances that they won’t make them. That’s the whole problem.

Try asking American Jews if they would support an agreement that leaves Iran in possession of the machinery to manufacture nuclear weapons in the future, and see what they say. But of course J Street will never ask such a question. It has defined its role as serving as a “blocking back” for the Obama Administration’s Mideast policies, and misrepresenting Jewish opinion is a crucial part of its strategy.

Moshe Phillips is president and Benyamin Korn is chairman of the Religious Zionists of America, Philadelphia, and candidates on the Religious Zionist slate ( in the World Zionist Congress elections.

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  • Yale

    The authors take as given that the J Street crew knows what is being discussed iin the nuclear negotiations. Maybe they just don’t know what they’re talking about; stupid and ignorant is just as dangerous as hostilr, but needs to be addressed differently.

  • Reform School

    Jihad Street needs the same thing Obama, Holder, Kerry and Hillary need: individual 2-week vacations on the Gaza Arab street, posing as normal American tourists—no bodyguards.
    It’d be the Arab version of the song “Attitude Adjustment.”

  • Lynn Poynor

    Who in hell would believe anything or be surprised at any distortions of fact that appears on the left-wing CNN?

  • Robert Davis

    Stupid burnett must have confused arabs and Jews…or the poll was taken only among jihadstreet imbeciles! She is not just a LIAR but also totally DUMB to “think” if she has a brain that anyone would believe her.

  • So we have a J Street (strident left leaning? Hmm) poll taken to task by the Religious Zionists of America (strident right leaning? Hmm) M Phillips and B Korn.
    Gimme a break! J

  • J street is a 100% antisemitic organization. In the wise and prescient words of Dr Martin Luther King Jr in March 1968: ” when people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You’re talking antisemitism.”..

  • anon

    J-street takes money from Iran.

  • Sara klompus

    Erin Burnett has exaggerated facts before to gain a scoop, like during operation Protective Edge. She needed to be put in her place which ambassador Ron Dermer did.

  • In a class tat I took while studying for my business degree at Ohio State back in the early 70’s we discussed what we referred to as lying with numbers. What was true then is true now. You can twis statistics any way you want.

  • Michael Chenkin

    The normally excellent Moshe Phillips and Benyamin Korn completely fail to understand just how dangerous Iran is to Israel. Any deal that frees the Iranian economy is a lethal deal for Israel. While nuclear weapons may be the easiest way for Iran to destroy Israel, the nuclear approach is just one of several that Iran is pursuing. The common factor of all these approaches is that they require money. By freeing the Iranian economy from sanctions Iran will have all the funds it needs to pursue multiple avenues of destroying Israel.

    The Iranian threat to Israel can be compared to paying for a NYC bus. It is easiest to swipe a MetroCard, put dropping fifty nickels down the change receptacle will also get you on the bus. For Iran, nuclear weapons are the MetroCard, while conventional missiles, coming from both Iran and territories bordering Israel, terror proxies and a general war of nerves and attrition are the nickels.

    Each approach destroys Israel and that is Iran’s objective. Furthermore it is likely that Iran will largely comply with whatever nuclear deal is reached for at least five years. This is because you don’t serve dinner until you have the food purchased and prepared, the house cleaned, the table set, yourself properly dressed and the quests arrived. Iran still has at least a good five years of preliminaries before it would be optimal for her to use nuclear weapons.

    Like a brilliant magician, Iran has everyone so mesmerized by the nuclear weapons almost no one even sees all the other paths Iran is pursuing to destroy Israel.

  • Pinchas Baram

    J Street is an ENEMY and must be confronted, shouted down, denounced, repudiated in no uncertain terms, much as Hamas and pro-BDS dogs must be FOUGHT to the bitter end. There is NO other way. Do NOT debate or have a dialogue with JStreet.

  • Morrie Amitay

    Don’t underestimate what the vermin at J ST. will do to undermine Israel’s security and to push the Obama M.E. agenda. To treat them with contempt is to apply too soft a condemnation.

  • sptruth200

    the claim isn’t a fraud…its the same view as majority of americans, and Europeans. ITS time ISRAEL DECLARED their nuclear weapons, and stop beating the drum of war making the world believe Iran has them…they don’t…as 16 US intell agencies already exposed. The only one who believes that bs is Bibi the Klown…who is now the laughing stock of the world.

    • Addie

      Dear splies200:

      I guess you didn’t read the article. It presents the actual wording of the question that got the 84% agreement, and that just isn’t what J Street claims it was. The lie comes from J Street.

      Israel has never claimed that Iran has nuclear weapons, only that it is seeking to build them. That is true, as anyone who pays any attention to what comes from Iran knows full well.

      Ignorance like yours is a danger to the world. Maybe you should start reading the articles on which you comment. And a little serious background study wouldn’t hurt either.

  • Mel Kram

    Why don’t Messrs Phillips and Korn co-sponsor a legitimate piece of research with J Street that would be conducted and controlled by a reputable survey research firm (like ORC), among a representative sample of North American Jews, that might address issues like how much they know about Obama’s negotiations with Iran and how happy they are about them? Or would they rather continue to piss on J Street’s shoes while wowing us with their utter mastery of the intricacies of public opinion research?

  • Leo Toystory

    J-Street is a front group for Iranian interests.