Israelis divided on US role in Middle East peace process: poll
July 3, 2012 | Jewish Tribune
WASHINGTON, DC – The Israeli public is equally divided on the effect of United States involvement in the Middle East peace process over the last few years, a new survey shows.
The seventh annual B’nai B’rith World Center Survey on Contemporary Israeli Attitudes Toward Diaspora Jewry found that one-third answered that the US has impeded progress, one-third said the US has promoted progress in the peace process over the last few years, with the final third saying they did not know.
Most of the survey focused on attitudes regarding relations between Israel and the Diaspora. An overwhelming 80 per cent of Israelis strongly favoured the use of their tax money to promote programs like Birthright or Masa that build support for Israel in the Diaspora by bringing Jewish youth and young adults to Israel.
When asked the best way for Israel to deal with violence against Jews in Europe, a majority felt it would be more effective to encourage aliyah (51 per cent) than to work with local governments (38 per cent) or to train the Jewish community in self-defence tactics (7 per cent).
“This survey has shown the significant connection between the two communities and the extent to which they are willing to help each other,” said B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice-President Daniel S. Mariaschin. “There clearly is a strong interest in further building the relationship between Israel and the Diaspora.”
Israelis were almost equally split on whether Israeli tax money should be used to help members of Diaspora Jewry during times of economic crisis in the Diaspora, with 46 per cent supporting and 43 per cent opposing. When asked the same question in 2009, nearly 60 per cent supported the measure.
Israelis seem to strongly favour finding an instrument by which to better represent Diaspora issues in Israel, with 56 per cent in support of creating a “Jewish Parliament” that would represent Diaspora Jews (23 per cent oppose). About 18 per cent would give the body the right to propose legislation to the Knesset and 25 per cent would give it mandatory consultative status, while 40 per cent favour the body having only voluntary consultative status.
However, more oppose formal representation in the Knesset, with 63 per cent opposed to allowing Diaspora Jews to elect “a few” Knesset members to represent their interests (with 21 per cent supporting) and 49 per cent opposed to establishing a mechanism requiring the Knesset to hold debate on issues relevant to Diaspora Jews.
Israelis also strongly oppose allowing its citizens living outside of Israel to elect Knesset members (51 per cent oppose, 29 per cent support and 20 per cent don’t know).
“This survey has demonstrated the enduring connection between Israelis and Diaspora Jews,” said B’nai B’rith World Center Director Alan Schneider. “Clearly, Israelis are committed to finding a vehicle for including and expanding the opinions and participation of Diaspora Jews in Israel.”
In his book, Crisis of Zionism, Peter Beinart advocates the implementation of what he terms a “Zionist boycott” against the settlements by American Jews. When asked whether American Jews should boycott Israeli settlements, 76 per cent of Israelis disagreed and only 13 per cent were in agreement.
The Internet survey was conducted June 20 with 507 Israeli Jews age 18 or older, and there is a margin of error of +/- 4.5 per cent. The survey was conducted by KEEVOON Research.