Forward Thinking

New Poll: Israel Is Not the Deciding Factor

By Nathan Guttman

  • Print
  • Share Share
Getty Images

It is polling season in the Jewish world and after Gallup’s poll and the controversial Dick Morris and the just as controversial McLaughlin and Caddell surveys it is now J Street’s turn to weigh in.

The group released yesterday its own national survey of American Jews which reinforces the main findings of the Gallup poll — that Barack Obama still enjoys significant support among American Jews.

According to J Street’s poll, conducted by pollster Jim Gerstein, Obama has a 60% approval rating among Jews, a number consistent with previous polling done by the group. When faced off against potential Republican candidates Mitt Romney or Michelle Bachmann, Obama easily wins a large majority of Jewish votes.

The survey also dispelled claims that Jewish donors are turning away from Obama and the Democrats because of the president’s rocky relations with the Israeli government. A huge majority of those who made political contributions to Obama’s campaign in 2008 intend to do so again, just as a similar majority of Jews who gave money to John McCain in ’08 will contribute to the Republican candidate in this election cycle.

But not all is rosy for Obama with Jewish voters. The poll found that a majority of American Jews (56%) disapprove of Obama’s handling of the Arab–Israeli conflict. But despite this number, still a large majority of the American Jewish community, based on this poll, will vote Obama in 2012. According to Gerstein, this finding proves what Jewish Democrats have been saying all along — Israel is not a deciding factor for American Jewish voters.

The survey attempted to gauge Jewish public opinion on the issue of an Israeli–Palestinian final status solution and found a majority still supports the idea of a settlement based on Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 borders with land swaps, a division of Jerusalem in which the Jewish neighborhoods and the Western Wall remain Israeli, and a solution for the refugee problem based on financial compensation and a limited number of Palestinians allowed to return to Israel on a family reunification basis.

When asked if they’d like to see the U.S. playing an active role in the peace process including stating publicly differences with Israelis and Palestinians, most American Jews replied favorably, but when faced with the possibility that playing an active role could lead to the U.S. voicing only its differences with Israel, the mood changed and most participants opposed the idea. “The message is that you need to communicate you are holding both sides accountable, not only one,” said Gerstein.

J Street can be pleased with the poll it commissioned. The results reaffirm the group’s working assumption that American Jews are liberal, democratic and that they want an active U.S. role in Middle East peacemaking. It could also help the dovish lobby convince Democrats in Congress that speaking out in favor of territorial compromise, as Obama did in his May 19 speech, does not come with a political price.

Reality on Capitol Hill, however, is different and as the July 7 vote in the House of Representatives on the resolution threatening to cut aid to Palestinians if they seek U.N. recognition as an independent state indicates, most politicians still prefer to take no chances when it comes to issues relating to Israel. The resolution was approved with a 407 to 6 majority.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Polling, J Street, Election 2012, Barack Obama, American Jews

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • Real exodus? For Mimi Minsky, it's screaming kids and demanding hubby on way down to Miami, not matzo in the desert.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.