Poll finds a quarter of US Jews think Israel is ‘apartheid state’

Also, 22% of respondents believe ‘Israel is committing genocide’; 67% say denying Jewish state’s right to exist is antisemitic

Jerusalem24 – Times of Israel –  A survey of US Jewish voters taken after the Israel-Gaza conflict finds that a sizable minority believes some of the harshest criticisms of Israel, including that it is committing genocide and apartheid.

Among respondents to the survey commissioned by the Jewish Electorate Institute, a group led by prominent Jewish Democrats, 34 percent agreed that “Israel’s treatment of Palestinians is similar to racism in the United States,” 25% agreed that “Israel is an apartheid state” and 22% agreed that “Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinians.”

Among younger voters included in the survey released Tuesday, agreement with those statements was higher, though still in the minority. The poll found that 9% of voters agreed with the statement “Israel doesn’t have a right to exist.” But among voters under 40, that proportion was 20%. A third of younger voters agreed that Israel is committing genocide, a position that even human rights lawyers who are critical of Israel say is extreme; more than a third agreed that Israel is an apartheid state.

The findings are striking as mainstream pro-Israel organizations struggle to make the case that Israel is central to Jewish identity and that criticism of it often veers into antisemitism. They suggest that many American Jews agree with statements by some of Israel’s harshest critics on the left made during the Gaza-Israel conflict in May, including in some cases by a handful of Democratic members of Congress who were then criticized by their colleagues.

Protesters at the Port of Oakland on June 4, 2021, where they halted a container ship owned by the Israel-based Zim Integrated Shipping Services Ltd. in a campaign tied to the BDS movement. (Brooke Anderson via J. The Jewish News of Northern California/ via JTA)

The survey of American Jewish political sentiment was wide-ranging, finding wide approval for President Joe Biden and deep concern about Republican efforts in Georgia and Florida to tighten access to the ballot booth. When it came to measuring criticism of Israel, the poll first asked respondents whether they thought each of the four critical statements was antisemitic; those who said a statement was not antisemitic were then asked if they agreed with it.

Of the four statements, only in one case, did a majority — 67% — agree that it was antisemitic to say, “Israel doesn’t have a right to exist.” For the other three questions, more respondents disagreed that the statement was antisemitic than agreed.

The survey of 800 voters, conducted by GBAO Strategies from June 28 to July 1 online and via texts, has an overall margin of error of 3.5 percentage points; the replies of those under 40 have a margin of error of 6 percentage points. (The margin of error for the Orthodox subgroup was 11.6 percentage points.)

While the proportion of respondents agreeing with critical statements about Israel was higher than many pro-Israel advocates have characterized, at least one finding is in line with that of another recent survey. Asked if they felt emotionally attached to Israel, 62% of respondents to the Jewish Electorate Institute survey said they did and 38% said they did not, numbers that matched those in the Pew study of 4,700 American Jews released in May.

U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., flanked by U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., left, and U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., responds to remarks by President Donald Trump after he called for four Democratic congresswomen of color to go back to their “broken” countries, as he exploited the nation’s glaring racial divisions once again for political gain, during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, July 15, 2019. All four congresswomen are American citizens and three of the four were born in the U.S. Omar is the first Somali-American in Congress. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

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