Israel supporters divided
TWO IN five British Jews under 30 would back sanctions against Israel if it encouraged the country to engage in peace talks with the Palestinians, according to the results of an internet questionnaire commissioned by the left-of-centre group Yachad.
While the overwhelming majority of UK Jews remain strongly attached to Israel, the questionnaire found that they held a “strongly dovish stance on peace” and were deeply opposed to settlement expansion.
Onfundamentalssuchasrecognising Israel’s legitimacy, British Jews “speak as one”, the report said, but “deep-seated differences” existed on policies towards the Palestinians, with more than half sometimestornbetweenloyaltytowards Israel and concern about its actions.
The survey of 1,131 British Jews was carried out earlier this year by City University’s department of sociology and funded by Yachad, the campaign group for a two-state solution.
The overwhelming majority — 93 per cent — said their relationship with Israel forms part of their identity as Jews, with 90 per cent supporting its existence as a “Jewish state”.
But three-quarters regarded expansion of “West Bank” settlements as a “major obstacle to peace”. Nearly a quarter—24percent—wouldbacksanctions against Israel if it advanced peace, while
Yachad’s Israel survey found higher levels of concern among British Jews 66 per cent were opposed. The figure in support of sanctions went up to 41 per cent among Jews under 30.
Forty-two per cent backed the idea of talks with Hamas — the same number that opposed it. But 59 per cent believed there was no credible Palestinian partner for peace, while 70 per cent said the Palestinians must recognise Israel as a Jewish state, not just its right to exist.
Overall, 71 per cent were in favour of a two-state solution. Nearly three-quarters — 73 per cent — thought Israel’s cur- rent stance towards peace talks damaged its standing in the world.
A majority, 53 per cent, considered Israel an occupying power on the West Bank. A large proportion, 68 per cent, felt “a sense of despair” at approval of settlement expansion, with most believing it would lead to an “unstoppable pressure for sanctions”.
While 93 per cent believed in Israel’s right to resort to military action against Hamas, 37 per cent thought its response to rocket attacks in 2014 was “disproportionate”.
Aclearmajority,64percent,supported the right of diaspora Jews to voice their opinion of Israeli policies. Only 59 per cent described themselves as Zionists.
Nearly one in five — 19 per cent — had considered moving to Israel because of antisemitism in Britain.
While young Jews were more dovish than older Jews, non-Orthodox shul members were more so than strictly Orthodox. “Support for doveish positions is two or three times higher among non-members and members of Reform, Liberal and Masorti synagogues than among strictly Orthodox synagogues,” the report stated.
Hawks significantly overestimated how widely their views were shared — by twofold — while doves underestimate theirs by 10 per cent.
The report was written by three emeritus Jewish professors, Stephen Miller, Margaret Harris and Colin Shindler with former JC editor Ned Temko as editorial adviser.
They said they were confident that the survey — based on three forms of sampling with the involvement of polling company Ipsos Mori — is “broadly representative” of British Jewry.
Yachad director Hannah Weisfeld said: “The community is shifting. Feelings of despair, conflict between loyalty to Israel and concern over policies of the government are mainstream, not marginal positions.”