New Poll Finds American Jews Want Strong US Role to End Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

A new poll of American Jewish voters reveals a community that cares deeply about Israel but overwhelmingly backs assertive US leadership to bring an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on a two-state solution — even if that means publicly stating disagreements with both sides.

The poll of 800 Jewish voters taken on Election Night by GBA Strategies with a statistical margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points found that American Jews remained loyal to the Democratic Party on a night when many other voting blocs deserted it.

Sixty nine percent of respondents voted Democrat in their district with only 28 percent voting Republican. President Obama’s approval rating was 57 percent, compared to around 43 percent in the general population.

Some compelling findings in the survey, which was commissioned by the pro-Israel, pro-peace advocacy group J Street (full disclosure, I am the Vice President of Communications for J Street) concerned attitudes toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the role Washington ought to play in trying to resolve it.

Core support for Israel when its security appears threatened remains strong. Eighty percent of respondents supported Israel’s military campaign against Hamas last summer and 85 percent opposed the idea of boycotting Israeli products, although only 40 percent said they knew much about the BDS campaign.

Support for a two-state solution was overwhelming at 80 percent. Even when respondents were specifically told that a two-state solution would entail the establishment of a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem, support remained at 72 percent with only 28 percent opposed.

Asked whether the United States should put its own peace plan on the table and ask the parties to return to negotiations based on those parameters, 77 percent said that it should do so. Most illuminating, 74 percent of American-Jewish voters said they would support the US exerting pressure on both Israelis and Arabs to make the compromises necessary to achieve peace.

By 78 percent to 22 percent, American-Jewish voters also agreed that a two-state solution was necessary to strengthen Israel’s security and ensure its Jewish, democratic character.

Although these voters gave Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a 53 percent approval rating, twice as many thought his policies had hurt Israel’s relations with the United States as those who thought they had helped.

Eighty percent supported a partial or complete suspension of Israeli settlement building in the West Bank, with 52 percent willing to go along with construction only in core settlement blocs.

Lastly, on Iran, 84 percent of American-Jewish voters supported the outlines of an agreement that would restrict Iran’s enrichment of uranium to levels suitable for civilian energy only while placing inspectors at Iranian nuclear facilities to make sure they are not developing a nuclear weapon. Only 15 percent opposed this.

Israel and the American-Jewish establishment are of course strongly opposed to such a deal, insisting that Iran give up all of its enrichment capability in exchange for a relaxation of sanctions. However, if the six powers negotiating with Iran reach such an agreement by the Nov. 24 deadline, the poll suggests that American Jews will side overwhelmingly with the Obama administration rather than adopting the opposing position.

About the Author
Alan Elsner, a former Reuters journalist and author, is Vice President for Communications at J Street, a pro-Israel, pro-peace advocacy group. He is the author of four books including two novels. Elsner is a dual U.S.-Israeli citizen who lives in Rockville Maryland. His posts at Reuters included Jerusalem correspondent, Chief Nordic Correspondent, State Dept. correspondent, chief U.S. political correspondent and U.S. national correspondent.