Friday, April 16, 2010

Rabbi Kaufman on the 2010 AJC Poll of American Jewish Opinion

Rabbi Kaufman on the 2010 AJC Poll of American Jewish Opinion

Here is the link to the full poll. I have included relevant questions below:

The 2010 AJC Poll of Jewish Opinion is being referenced in numerous places to show strong support for the Obama Administration’s position in reference to Israel. On closer look it does not do so. Why?

Question 4 is a generic approve/disapprove of the Obama Administration’s handling of US-Israel relations. While some would say that 55-37 is a sizeable majority, it is likely far worse than any President would have rated since Jimmy Carter if then. Note also Question 5 about the Netanyahu Administration’s handling of relations. It scored HIGHER than the Obama Administration and with a wider margin, 57-30. What this tells me is that American Jews think that relations are generally good, BUT that Netanyahu, who is no liberal fan favorite and American Jews tend toward being liberal, is seen as doing a BETTER job than Obama. That is actually a frightening result for Democratic Party advocates.

If you look at the specific issues addressed in recent events and reconsider the question of whether or not American Jews approve of the Administration’s policies, you will find that the somewhat positive result for Question 4 should be taken with a grain of salt. Why? Because American Jews do not support the specific policies being pursued by the Administration when they are asked about them individually.

In responding to Question 7, only 48% of American Jews were in favor of the creation of a Palestinian state in the current situation. We can assume a divergence of views both about the nature of the state and what is meant by “the current situation,” but the result is hardly a strong endorsement of ramping up pressure on Israel and the Palestinians to pursue peace now.

In responding to Question 8 in which they were asked whether or not Israel should compromise on having Jerusalem as a “united city under Israeli sovereignty” 61% said “No.” That is hardly a sign of support for the Administration calling most of that city “Settlements” and demanding a halt to construction there. Only 35% said "Yes."

Question 10 which suggested that the Palestinians ultimate goal is the destruction of Israel found 75% in support of that statement. If the Obama Administration believes otherwise, it is hardly supported by the Jewish community in America on that issue.

And on Iran, the American Jewish community clearly believes that the Administration is doing a poor job, does not support the minimalist sanctions effort being pursued by the Administration (by a margin of 68% to 31%), but does support military action against Iran either by America 53% or Israel 62% both of which are strongly opposed by the Administration.

A friend of mine, Richard Friedman, Executive Director of the Birmingham Jewish Federation, pointed out that the period during which the AJC did the polling began March 2nd, a week before the flap over Biden's visit, March 10th, ten days before Sec. Clinton's lambasting of Netanyahu on March 12, and concluded two weeks after, March 23rd, so some of the respondents would have been responding to the issue having no idea that the administration would act as it did a week or two later. Remember also that in the evening of the 23rd, one of the most egregious events occurred. That night, after the AJC polling was over, Netanyahu met with Obama who abandoned him for dinner at the White House and allowed no pictures to be taken of the visit. This would all likely result, as my friend pointed out, in a significantly more negative view of the administration if the poll was conducted today than is represented in this poll.

The relevant questions may be found below.


4. Do you approve or disapprove of the Obama Administration's handling of U.S.-Israel relations?

Approve 55%
Oppose 37%
Not Sure 8%

5. Do you approve or disapprove of the Netanyahu government's handling of Israel-U.S. relations?

Approve 57%
Oppose 30%
Not Sure 12%

7. In the current situation, do you favor or oppose the establishment of a Palestinian state?

Support 48%
Oppose 45%
Not Sure 7%

8. In the framework of a permanent peace with the Palestinians, should Israel be willing to compromise on the status of Jerusalem as a united city under Israeli jurisdiction?

Yes 35%
No 61%
Not Sure 4%

10. Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? “The goal of the Arabs is not the return of occupied territories but rather the destruction of Israel.”

Agree 75%
Disagree 20%
Not Sure 5%

13. Do you approve or disapprove of the Obama Administration’s handling of the Iran nuclear issue?

Approve 47%
Disapprove 42%
Not Sure 11%

14. How much of a chance do you think there is that a combination of diplomacy and sanctions can stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons? Is there a good chance, some chance, little chance, or no chance?

Good chance 5%
Some chance 27%
Little chance 45%
No chance 23%
Not sure 1%

15. Would you support or oppose the United States taking military action against Iran to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons?

Support 53%
Oppose 42%
Not sure 4%

16. Would you support or oppose Israel taking military action against Iran to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons?

Support 62%
Oppose 33%
Not sure 5%

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