A rally of supporters of Israel at the Capitol in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite/file) AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite/file
A rally of supporters of Israel at the Capitol in Washington

The vast majority of American Jews are sympathetic to Israel, and most of them feel an emotional connection to the Jewish state, according to a new poll.

By TPS

Some 80% of American Jews consider themselves pro-Israel, 67% feel “attached” or “very attached” to Israel, and more than 70% of Jews in the US feel that their personal relationship with Israel is equal, or stronger, than it was five years ago, according to a new study on the issue by the Ruderman Family Foundation, countering claims about a growing gap between the sides.

“This relationship is more than politics and Jewish religious practices, and the conversation needs to reflect this simple reality,” said Foundation President Jay Ruderman

The Foundation further noted that the findings are particularly important in light of the tensions that have emerged in recent years between both sides, including those related to President Donald Trump.

Segmentation of the responses by affiliation shows a clear picture: Jews who identify with liberal streams feel that the relationship is weaker than their counterparts, but the picture is not one-dimensional: 15% of those who identified as Orthodox claimed that the relationship was weakened, and 31% of Conservative Jews claimed the relationship was stronger.

Few saw a lack of “mutual understanding or shared values” as one of the most important reasons, reinforcing the understanding that there is a deep common language at the individual level, which is not always expressed in the discourse between the two sides.

It is important to note that over half (55%) of American Jews have visited Israel or have family ties to someone living in Israel. A third 33% have family in Israel, and 44% have visited Israel or lived there, including 7% who have visited it during the past year.

The survey also examined the way in which American Jews perceive Jewish community organizations and institutions. There is clearly a link to community engagement and the attachment to Israel. For instance, among those who are “very engaged” in Jewish community organizations, 90% have an emotional attachment with Israel, and 67% say they are “very” attached. While among those who are “not at all engaged”, only 42% feel an attachment to Israel.

Over a third of American Jews (35%) say that wanting to help Israel is a very important reason to get involved in community organizations and institutions. But that is a relatively lower priority than the desire to “sustain and continue the Jewish community for future generations” which 56% see as very important reason to get involved.

This is the most comprehensive survey of the Jewish community in the United States in recent years, and one of the largest ever.

It was initiated by the Ruderman Family Foundation and conducted in December 2019. Twenty-five hundred Jews were sampled, portraying a representative sample of the adult Jewish population in the United States, through the Mellman Group, with a statistical deviation of 1.96%.