American Jews on Jerusalem: We’ll Probably Never Go There, But Palestinians Can’t Share It!

The new alternative Jewish lobby is proving its worth. Yesterday J Street released a detailed survey of American Jewish political opinion. J Street interprets this data in a favorable way to its own efforts, saying that overwhelmingly Jews vote Democratic, oppose Bush’s actions in the Middle East, and want a two-state solution– by 3 to 1. But you know me, I’m skeptical about progressive claims about Jewish opinion with respect to the Middle East, and I find support here. What the study shows is that when you get to brass tacks about Israel, American Jews are hawkish.

Yes, they have an unfavorable view of Joe Lieberman (by 48 to 37 favorable). Yes they will support Obama (but only 60-34 over McCain; bad news for Obama, who wants to get to 70 or 80). Yes they are for talking to Iran, not attacking it (Great!). Yes they are for an aggressive U.S. peacemaking role in the Middle East. Yes they call for sacrifices by Israel to achieve peace. Yes they disavow the neocons! Memo to Doug Feith: 13 percent of American Jews have a favorable view of neocons, 58 percent an unfavorable view, man you are in deep doo-doo. But under that is a hard core of hawkishness.

Consider these data points. By 60-28 Jews are more-likely-than-less likely to support a candidate who says that Israel is America’s greatest ally and we must let the world know that and we must never publicly disagree with Israel. When you make the statement more hawkish–America must do everything it can to protect Israel’s security, even if that means attacking Iran if it pursues nuclear weapons, and cutting off aid to Palestinians if their text books don’t recognize Israel, there is still a 48 more-likely to 41 less-likely split. Jews are tough when it comes to Israel! If a candidate were to say, Israel has repeatedly extended her hand to her enemies and been rejected year after year, and we must work with Israel to eliminate her enemies, Jews will love you– 65/23.

Oh and sadly, there is only one question in the survey expressing the mildest empathy for Palestinian suffering. J Street can’t really go there.

The same hawkishness shows up in attitudes about a peace deal. J Street didn’t really put this data out in its public statements, and I know why: they’re obdurate attitudes. Should Israel give up “most of the West Bank and dismantle many of the Israeli settlements” for a full peace–59/41 in favor. Well, that language is very weak–”Most of the West Bank”, “many of the settlements”–and still you have 41 percent against it! The same obduracy with respect to Jerusalem. Should Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem be “part of the new Palestinian state” –very vague language indeed, and no mention of the Old City–American Jews are against that 56 to 44 percent! Just what the far-more-conservative American Jewish Committee said in its survey a little while ago. The U.S. should tell Israel to “end settlement expansion.” Yes, 52. No, 48. No wonder Bush and Obama are afraid of their own shadows on the issue.

Oh, how many American Jews who express these hawkish attitudes have been to Israel? 42 percent. 3 out of 5 have never been.

The figures demonstrate the difficulty J Street is in. Even AIPAC gets favorable ratings here (by about 2 to 1) because it backs a hawkish program for Israel. So J Street can’t be too dovish. It will not get numbers. As I have written before, J Street is here to lobby the lobby. To put pressure on AIPAC from the left. Good for J Street! And J Street is trying to grow the differences with AIPAC, by hammering away in this survey on how much Jews dislike Rev. John Hagee of the Christian Zionists, AIPAC’s buddy.

Hagee is window dressing. The real issues are Jerusalem and the West Bank, and J Street reveals: obduracy. Compare those Jewish numbers to American attitudes generally. If all Americans knew, they’d be overwhelmingly against the settlements, and for an international Jerusalem. Which U.N. Partition called for in ’47. These numbers show why J Street buttoned its lip when Obama shamelessly called for an undivided Jerusalem at AIPAC last month. J Street knows, Jews are behind Obama on that one.

I think J Street is a great thing. It will move things, but it will take years. The most important data here in the end may be the age data. Jews are older than other segments of the population. 52 percent of respondents are 50 and older. Only 36 percent are under 44. It’s the young Jews I’m looking to, and J Street is too. Let those older Jews die off a little, and you may be surprised. Jerusalem may one day be internationalized. But don’t hold your breath. And before that happens, something else is going to happen: there will be open war in the American Jewish community over the meaning of Zionism. I’m counting on the kids.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of
Posted in Israel/Palestine, Neocons, US Policy in the Middle East, US Politics

{ 13 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. Anonymous says:

    Wherever walks the living, the one D. has already been there.


  2. Lysander says:

    Like I've said a few times. There will simply have to be a change in the regional balance of power if there is to be an equitable peace settlement. Without such balance, it is too easy for Israel to refuse any concession. Indeed, in the past 7 years they no longer go through the motions of pretending to be reasonable. That attitude is not unique to Israel. Nation States simply do not make concessions when they don't have to.

    This may sound radical, but the best hope the Palestinians have is a nuclear Iran and a powerful Hizbullah. You're not going to get too many Jews who like that idea; Norman Finkelstein and Gilad Atzmon are a rare breed. But of course they understand it to be true. That's why they want to avoid it.

  3. Tom says:

    Don't be too hard on your people, bro.

    If you go to a pro palestinian demonstration in New York, 1/3 of the participants will be Jewish. Imagine say a pro Tutsi demonstration, how many Hutus would show up?

    My problem isn't with the Jews, my problem is with US politicians who kowtow to Jewish money and steer our foreign policy in ways disadvantageous to our interests.

  4. Richard Witty says:

    Jews aren't as sympathetic to Palestinian condition, because they don't know of it, and because they have been repeatedly and excessively browbeaten.

    Its not the mass media that is the problem. It is the Palestinian advocacy groups which prefer to harrangue than to inform.

    You don't change hearts by assaulting them. You change hearts by informing them.

    J Street doesn't need to lobby AIPAC. And, it doesn't need to confront AIPAC.

    It needs to establish its own perspective, clearly and convincingly.

    The questions about undivided Jerusalem (international undivided or Palestinian undivided or Israeli undivided), or about the fate of individual settlers or even the borders of sovereignty, defined by pluralities usually, are OPEN questions.

    To assume that there is a clearly just answer in reality, is to impose.

    Things that are known are that Palestine is a nation, Palestinians are human beings, and for any solution to actually be a solution, it must affirm the prospects for a healthy Palestinian state and people.

    If some settlers must move to achieve what it takes to result in a healthy good neighbor to a healthy good neighbor, then move them.

    While many (on multiple sides) object to how facts on the ground became facts on the ground, to a democratic perspective that is at best only partially relevant.

    The United States for example is not a system that only franchises those "who should be here". Consent of the governed is consent of who IS here.

    Definitely, the reality of forced expropriation of land must be dealt with in some way, but 1948 as reference is insufficient.

    The task of humanists is to construct a good present and future, from horrendous pasts.

  5. samuel burke says:

    let the sunshine in…

    link to

    Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern discusses his recent article on the probable Israeli/U.S. attack on Iran, Israel’s need for new war in Iran to keep the U.S. military in the Mideast due to the failure in Iraq, the outspokenness of the military brass against an attack on Iran, AIPAC’s drafting of the new Iran war resolutions, Bush and Cheney’s loyalty to Israel, the never-ending conflicts created by the Israel occupation of Palestine, the need for the American people and Congress to understand the catastrophe that would ensue from attacking Iran and the urgency of impeachment.

  6. Dana says:

    "We'll Probably Never Go There, But Palestinians Can't Share It!"

    Great title, Phil. :)

  7. Richard Witty says:

    I visited Israel in 1968. I was 14.

    It was the first summer that the old city was open to visit by Jews. The Wailing Wall, the old city.

    The feeling EVERYWHERE was of exuberance that the city was once again unified (not like Berlin, walled), and that Jews were permitted (rather than excluded) from visiting the sites of their recent and long past sentimental attachment.

    One reason that there are differences in consciousness stratified by age, is that people have different founding experiences often by age.

    What one experienced from 14 – 20 is largely formative. For Jews older than I, the holocaust (largely revealed in detail and graphically after the war – during the war there was NOT open press at the death camps), the founding of Israel, the wars against Israel, and in 1967 the restoration of ability to visit the lands of our fathers.

    It was profound.

    It can be compromised politically, but it should not be dismissed as if the experience did not occur.

    That is revionism.

  8. peters says:

    finally, phil writes it, it is certainly my experience. underneath the anti-war stuff, behind the "liberal" mask, is the hard-as-a- rock loyalty to israel. no jew i know can even discuss it, not with me. the catch phrases come out. "israel has a right to exist", " jews have all sorts of opinions", "the mideast would be a mess even if israel wasn't there", which are offered before i even say a word. it's telegraphed loud and clear what the deal is.

  9. peters says:

    finally, phil writes it, it is certainly my experience. underneath the anti-war stuff, behind the "liberal" mask, is the hard-as-a- rock loyalty to israel. no jew i know can even discuss it, not with me. the catch phrases come out. "israel has a right to exist", " jews have all sorts of opinions", "the mideast would be a mess even if israel wasn't there", which are offered before i even say a word. it's telegraphed loud and clear what the deal is.

  10. P.A.Z.-J.E.W. says:

    The past is no longer here, and the present is full of inconvenient truths.

    So what matters is the future.

    If Palestinians want their livelihoods back, they will have to maneuver themselves into power in the future.

    Why don't they make convincing, historically accurate films, you know, like Exodus?

    Why not strive to plant more of their surrogates in the American media and government, to create a mythology of pure righteousness in the minds of the idiots?

    For the Diaspora Palestinians, it wouldn't hurt to quit studying all that engineering and medicine, and concentrate on public relations, insurance schemes, and speculative finance.

    (America is a veritable cash cow for those who know how to milk it.)

    Instead, organized Palestinian groups restrict themselves to the negative, to criticism, and to blanket invective against those who happened to have stolen their land (albeit, fair and square).

    That land is now retroactively the land of my fathers. My fathers would not want us to give it back.

    It is where the concept of the Jewish people can be imposed.

    But remember, the objective is not to impose, but rather, to INFLUENCE.

    Once future Palestinian-American billionaires have achieved substantial influence, they can then begin to threaten politicians who refuse to vote for the creation of Nakba museums, or billions in unconditional aid for Palestine.

    In other words, Palestinians can start following the zionist universalist path to peace and justice RIGHT NOW.

    And whenever hateful voices are raised against this future Palestinian power, they should respond with affirmations:

    War is a GOOD.

    Our mythology is PROFOUND.

    Palestinians are a PEOPLE.

    Targeted suicide bombing missions and rocket launchings are NECESSARY for SECURITY.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Oh, no! Another weekend at the Simian Critical Care Unit! Aaaaaaaa……….

  12. American says:

    So…what you are showing is that US Jews are the problem after all.

    Well you know I mostly agree with that according to what I see them say on the net and in all their local, state and national organizations…hawks or doves they all hold their interest and that of Israel above the US and the rest of humanity.

    Misguided or brainwashed or just plain obsessed with themselves and their own tribalism..doesn't matter any more about the why…they don't belong on the American landscape any longer.

    Probably the number of Americans formerly sympathic to jews and Israel and now totally disgusted with them and their true homeland obsession outnumbers the total population of jews in the US.

    J-street or AIPAC, they better hope the jewish/israel question is never put to a vote in the American public.

  13. LeaNder says:

    This is one of the most interesting surveys I have seen for a long time. I wish the notation was somehow more easy to read. (Split A/Split B = age groups? – and question 11, go back to statistics: MEAN, ID).

    I wonder if the somehow arrogant ("of superior intelligence", but so so sure about the IQ of his American fellow Jews) writer below really understands the strategic space it opens up, and the brilliant design behind the question (in context) he mocks.

    Haaretz’s Rosner Rips JStreet a New One

    ADL would be well advised to consult Gerstein | Agne Strategic Communications for their next surveys here in Europe …