Israelis blame government more than American Jews for Kotel Crisis; economic support seen as greatest asset provided by US Jewry to Israel – security ranks fourth
The vast majority of Israelis believe Israel is morally obligated to Diaspora Jews, but disagree about what that means in practice, according to a survey conducted ahead of the country’s upcoming elections. Additionally, when asked about the Western Wall crisis, the number of Israelis who viewed Israel’s government as responsible more than doubled those who said US Jewry was to blame.
The findings show a great consensus among Jewish Israelis, Left, Right and Center, with 95 percent of them agreeing Israel has a moral obligation to maintain its relationship with Diaspora communities in general, and specifically with the American Jewish community. However, only 57% of Israelis believe the relationship is currently in a good place.
When asked who was responsible for the crisis around the cancelation of the Kotel (Western Wall) compromise, 32% blamed the Israeli government, compared to 13% who held the American Jewish community at fault. An additional 21% said both sides shared the blame, and the responsibility.
Shira Ruderman, Director of the Ruderman Family Foundation, said: “As the survey shows, the Israeli public understands the importance of connecting with Jews in American and around the world. Israel is in an election cycle, this topic bridges the political divide: 95 percent of the respondents, from all parties, view Israel’s relationship with the Jewish People as important. Over 60% of those who intend to vote for Israel’s large parties are interested in seeing those parties hold the Diaspora portfolio in the next government. Additionally, 90% of Israelis understand the American Jewish community is a strategic asset for Israel in a multiple fields, from economy and security to moral values.”
Ruderman added, “It is important Israelis talk about these issues now, on the eve of the elections. Those who ask for the public’s vote and trust must outline their positions not only on matters of public welfare or education, but also answer questions about Israel’s relationship with Jewish communities around the world.”
The Ruderman Family Foundation commissioned the survey, and it was conducted by the Dialogue polling company. It also checked the attitude Israelis had towards actively supporting the relationship with American Jewry. Asked whether the State of Israel should fund programs aimed at strengthening that relationship – such as Taglit-Birthright and MASA – 77% agreed. Interestingly, among voters of Meretz and United Torah Judaism (two parties on opposite political sides) a significantly lower approval rate of 46% and 47% was registered. Additionally, 52% of Israelis said it was important for them that their party hold the Diaspora portfolio in the next government, that number increases significantly among the supporters of Likud (61%), Labour (66%), and Kachol Lavan (62%).
The survey also showed differences in how Israelis value the American Jewish community. Nearly 35% of Israelis see it as an economic asset to Israel, while 21% think its greatest value is in the diplomatic field, and only 13% see it as being important for Israel’s security. Also, 20% of the respondents said US Jewry was a moral asset to Israel.