By Haviv Rettig Gur, The Jerusalem Post – 30 Sept 2009
A majority of American Jews support military action against Iran to prevent the Teheran regime from obtaining nuclear weapons, a new study claims.
Asked if they would support American military action, 56% of American Jews said they would, while just 36% opposed it, according to the American Jewish Committee’s 2009 Annual Survey of American Jewish Opinion.
An even greater number support Israeli military action against the Iranian nuclear program, with 66% in favor and just 28% against.
The survey, which polled 800 representative American Jews and was conducted by Synovate between August 30 and September 17, also dealt with US-Israeli relations, worries over anti-Semitism and identity.
It found that a majority of American Jews oppose the Obama administration’s recent policy of demanding a total Israeli settlement freeze, but this did not translate into support for keeping these settlements in the long term.
While 51% oppose the American freeze demand (though a substantial 41% agree with it), fully 60% said Israel should dismantle all (8%) or some (52%) of the West Bank settlements in the context of a permanent settlement with the Palestinians.
Despite any criticism, however, American Jews believe that Israeli-American relations were being handled well by the two country’s leaders. The Obama administration received 54% approval, compared to 32% disapproval, in its handling of this relationship while Netanyahu garnered a slightly better 59%-23%.
In general, the vast majority of respondents believe US-Israeli relations are strong, with 81% saying they were either “very” or “somewhat” positive and just 16% disagreeing.
Asked about the prospects for peace, three-quarters of the respondents expressed profound skepticism over Arab intentions, saying they agreed with the statement “The goal of the Arabs is not the return of occupied territories but rather the destruction of Israel.” Just 19% disagreed.
Thus it is perhaps not surprising that 51% do not believe there will ever “come a time when Israel and its Arab neighbors will be able to settle their differences and live in peace.” That pessimism rises substantially, to 79%, when the Palestinian side of the equation is Hamas. Just 17% think peace is achievable between Israel and Hamas.
But the pessimism is not reflective of their hopes. American Jews favor a Palestinian state, even “in the current situation,” by a factor of 49-41, through they are opposed (58 to 37) to compromising on Israeli jurisdiction over Jerusalem.
The survey briefly delved into questions of identification.
Asked for their political affiliations, respondents revealed the expected overwhelming identification with the Left and Center. Fully 53% said they were Democrats, 30% Independent and just 16% Republicans.
As for religious affiliation, 27% said they were Reform, 24% Conservative, 9% Orthodox and 2% Reconstructionist. But the most popular answer, at 36%, was “just Jewish.”
Jewishness was important to the respondents, with 51% saying it was “very important” in their lives, 33% “fairly important” and just 15% “not very important.”
This Jewish identification, however, did not necessarily translate into a feeling of connection with Israel. Just 28% said they felt “very close,” 41% “fairly close,” and fully 30% were either “fairly distant” or “very distant.”
The survey had a margin of error of 3%.