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June 2, 2019 11:14 am

New Survey of American, French, and Israeli Jews Shows Majority Agree on Many Issues, But Sharp Divide Over Trump

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Members of the Ugandan Abayudaya community visit the Western Wall in Jerusalem during their Taglit-Birthright trip. Photo: MAROM.

A new unprecedented survey of the world’s three largest Jewish communities — American, French, and Israeli — showed a majority of the communities agreeing on many issues, but a sharp divide on President Donald Trump’s relationship with Israel.

The American Jewish Committee poll showed that 48 percent of Israelis strongly approve of Trump’s handing of the US-Israel relationship, with another 31 percent somewhat approving and only four percent strongly disapproving.

Among American Jews, on the other hand, the numbers are almost precisely the opposite, with 45 percent strongly disapproving and only 22 percent strongly approving.

In addition, 88 percent of Israelis support Trump’s recognition earlier this year of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, while only 50 percent of American Jews do.

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There was, however, agreement on other issues. On the question of Jewish identity, 59 percent of American Jews, 43 percent of French Jews, and 51 percent of Israelis believe Jewish identity is mainly an issue of ethnicity and culture. Only a quarter of each community believe it is a matter of religion.

On whether Israel is vital to the future of the Jewish people, 91 percent of Israelis, 72 percent of Americans, and 53 percent of French Jews agreed. In regard to a thriving Diaspora, 74 percent of Israelis, 65 percent of Americans, and 51 percent of French Jews felt it was essential to the future of the Jewish people.

The survey showed that 65 percent of French Jews and 41 percent of American Jews have visited Israel at least once.

In regard to antisemitism, half of French Jews felt their security situation was worse now than it was a year ago, 58 percent said they had experienced antisemitism, and 56 percent felt the authorities were not doing enough about the problem. Fifty-five percent have considered emigration as a result. Forty-six percent of Israelis and 17 percent of Americans felt French Jews should leave immediately.

American Jews, surprisingly, had similar views on security, with 65 percent saying they felt less safe now than they did last year. Fifty-seven percent also said that pro-Israel students were facing a more hostile environment on campus.

On the peace process, there was moderate disagreement between Israeli and American Jews. Forty-three percent of Israelis thought the chances of peace with a Palestinian state would decline in the next five years. Fifty-one percent of American Jews said the chances will stay the same.

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