Among those who have relatives living abroad, 46 percent responded that those relatives were born in the Diaspora, while 39 percent were born in Israel, and 15 percent of the respondents who have relatives abroad have both Israel and Diaspora-born relatives. When looking at religious identification, Israelis identifying as “national religious” or “religious” were most likely to have Diaspora-born relatives with 62 percent and 55 percent respectively.
These are some of the findings contained in the 6th annual Survey of Contemporary Israeli Attitudes Toward Diaspora Jewry commissioned by the B’nai B’rith World Center—Jerusalem and conducted by KEEVOON Research.
The survey also found that a vast majority of Israelis—76 percent—feel strongly enough about the positive impact of Diaspora Jewry on the State of Israel to agree that one of the 12 torches lit by those honored by the Ministry of Education at the official state ceremony opening Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israel Independence Day) on Mt. Herzl every year, should be reserved for a representative of Diaspora Jewry who has made a significant contribution to the State of Israel. Only 19 percent of Israelis would oppose this gesture.
Israelis also recognize the importance of visiting Diaspora communities and Jewish historical sites when traveling abroad for business or vacation. Of respondents, 69 percent said it is important for them to personally visit these sites, with 29 percent defining it as “very important.” Only 24 percent defined visiting Diaspora communities and historical sites as “not important.” National religious and ultra-orthodox (Haredi) Israelis are most likely to visit Diaspora communities and sites with 70 percent and 58 percent respectively defining it as “very important.”
Another significant finding of the survey: 71 percent of those polled supported the statement that “Representatives of the Israeli government should always be ready to meet and maintain contact with Diaspora Jewish organizations that criticize their policies,” while only 20 percent of Israelis believe that the government should refuse to meet with these organizations.
“The results of the survey were significant and really demonstrate the close connection between Israelis and Diaspora Jewry,” Alan Schneider, B’nai B’rith World Center director, said. “For the first time, we were able to establish not just strong support and identification of Israelis with the Diaspora that has been demonstrated in our earlier surveys, but to show the extent of actual family connections. This shows us that Diaspora Jewry is a part of most Israelis’ daily life and concerns.”
With Israeli expatriate communities making up a major part of the Jewish population in some Diaspora communities, the B’nai B’rith World Center also asked whether resident Israelis would want to allow non-resident citizens the right to vote in national elections. While Israelis seem closely connected to their Diaspora counterparts, and in some cases to their Israeli relatives living abroad, only 42 percent would give Israelis living abroad the right to vote in Knesset elections by absentee ballot (51 percent oppose such a move). When looking at responses based on religious self-identification, an interesting trend emerges: 70 percent of ultra-orthodox Israelis support absentee voting while only 36 percent of national religious Israelis do. Among the 42 percent supporting granting absentee voting to Israelis abroad, 72 percent would have them vote for the regular Knesset lists while 18 percent favor designating a number of mandates that would directly represent expatriate Israelis in the Knesset.
In the past few years, Israel has successfully reached out to the Christian Zionist community in America who are ardent supporters of Israel. Of those polled, 50 percent of Israelis support the continued development of this relationship, while 40 percent of those polled said that Israel should limit its courting of Christian Zionists because it is opposed by some U.S. Jews.
Regarding attitudes on the future of European Jewry, Israelis are strongly in favor of relocating communities whose numbers are shrinking and experiencing anti-Semitism to Israel. The majority, 61 percent, responded that the government of Israel should provide support and assistance so they can immigrate to Israel. Only 22 percent responded that the government should help strengthen their community while 10 percent said the government should both strengthen these shrinking communities and encourage immigration to Israel.
In the case of Jonathan Pollard, 75 percent of those polled said that the American Jewish community should advocate actively for his release while 12 percent said it should not. On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 representing intensive effort and 1 representing no effort at all), nearly 80 percent of the Israelis polled give the American Jewish community a six or less regarding its efforts on behalf of Pollard while only 21 percent give it seven or greater.
Only two percent of those surveyed said that American Jews should not criticize President Obama’s recent speeches in which he presented a vision of a Palestinian state based on “the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps.” Among respondents, 27 percent said such criticism was “very justified” and 34 percent said it was “justified” while only 15 percent felt that it was “unjustified.”
The telephone survey was conducted June 13-16 and included 500 people within the Jewish population age 18 and older, and there is a margin of error of +/- 4.5 percent. The survey was conducted by KEEVOON Research.
The B’nai B’rith World Center, established in 1980, is the permanent and official presence of B’nai B’rith International in Jerusalem and serves as its public affairs arm in Israel.
For additional information please contact Alan Schneider, director, B’nai B’rith World Center at 02-6251743, 052-5536441 or firstname.lastname@example.org