Is­rael supporters di­vided

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY SI­MON ROCKER

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.”


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