NEW YORK, April 11, 2005- American Jews, by a nearly three to one margin
(62% to 23%) support Israel’s disengagement plan to leave Gaza and some West
Bank settlements, according to a new survey released today.
In addition, a large plurality of American Jews believe that in the context
of a peace agreement Israel should be willing to withdraw from most Jewish
settlements in the West Bank (41% vs. 27%).
These results emerge from a national telephone survey last week of 501
American Jews, directed by Prof. Steven M. Cohen, sociologist at The Hebrew
University of Jerusalem for Ameinu, an American Zionist organization, which
for 70 years has trained future leaders for the Israeli and American Jewish
The survey comes as Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is scheduled to meet
Monday with President Bush at his ranch in Crawford, Texas.
When asked how far Israel should go in the context of negotiating “a peace
treaty where each side promises to end the conflict, once and for all,” the
vast majority of American Jews- 70% to 10% – also believe Israel should be
willing to accept the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.
“At this moment of renewed hope, American Jews stand squarely with Israel as
it prepares to take great risks for peace,” said Kenneth Bob, president of
“Like the vast majority of Israelis, American Jews overwhelmingly support
disengagement from Gaza and part of the West Bank and see this as the first
of many steps toward a lasting peace with two states, Israel and Palestine,
living side-by-side,” he said.
At the same time, American Jews are not at all convinced that even with “a
signed peace agreement, the great majority of Palestinians are prepared to
live in peace with the Israelis.” Only 24% of American Jews hold this view,
more (35%) disagree, and the rest (41%) are mixed or not sure. When asked
about how the United States should relate to the conflict, an overwhelming
majority (75% to 10%) endorsed the view that, “The U.S. should push both
sides toward a peace agreement, even in the face of objections from Israelis
Interested media are respectfully requested to attribute data to the Ameinu
The respondents were largely unsure (62%) about whether the plan will make
Israel safer, and only a small plurality of 22% versus 16% could see the
disengagement making Israel more safe rather than less safe. At the same
time, a 55% to 21% majority did agree that the plan will help both sides
move closer to a peace agreement.
In the context of such an agreement a large plurality of American Jews
believe that Israel should allow the return of a token number of Palestinian
refugees to those parts of Israel they or their families left (41% to 30%).
The skeptical but mixed views of Palestinian intentions emerged in responses
to several related questions. On the one hand, a plurality believe, “The
current leaders of the Palestinian Authority are ready to hold serious
negotiations with Israel toward a peaceful resolution of their conflict (40%
agreed, 15% disagreed). At the same time, American Jews are deeply skeptical
about the chances of entirely ending terrorist attacks on Israel. By a
majority of 70% to 9%, they agree, “Even with a signed agreement between
Israel and the Palestinian Authority, a large number of Palestinians will
continue to use terrorism against Israel.” On these matters, as contrasted
with others, Orthodox Jews were opposed to the disengagement and more deeply
skeptical of Palestinian intentions.
“As they have in the past, American Jews’ attitudes toward the conflict
remarkably resemble those of the Israeli public, with, in fact, the same
Orthodox / non-Orthodox split as in Israel,” Cohen said.
“Like Israelis today, American Jews strongly support the disengagement plan
out of the hope that it might produce a lasting peace. At the same time,
they harbor no illusions about a portion of the Palestinians, believing that
they are committed to pursuing terrorism, even with the disengagement and
even with a signed peace agreement with the PA,” he said.
How the United States should relate to the conflict contain a number of
seeming contradictions. A strong majority (67% to 9%) wants the United
States to “push Palestinian leaders to be more conciliatory toward the
Israelis,” while a plurality (47% to 20%) believe likewise regarding pushing
“Israeli leaders to be more conciliatory toward the Palestinians.” Further
signs of complexity emerge in the responses to two seemingly opposed ideas.
By a 48% to 14% plurality, they agree, “In all or almost all instances, the
United States should support the positions of the Israeli government in its
dealings with the Palestinians.” At the same time, a plurality of 40% to 31%
also agrees that, “Rather than almost always taking Israel’s side as it does
now, the United States should be more even-handed in its approach to the
conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, sometimes supporting the
Israelis, and sometimes the Palestinians.”
“Clearly, the complexity of the conflict is mirrored in the complexity of
the views on the conflict, be they among American Jews or their Israeli
counterparts,” Cohen added.
The Washington office of Synovate, Inc., a major international marketing
research company, conducted the fieldwork last week, calling a sample of 501
respondents from eligible Jewish households across the United States, all of
whom are 25 or over and identified as Jewish by religion. The survey has a
margin of error of +/- 5%.