Americans for Peace Now has always contended – and public opinion polls have always validated – that our policy positions on Israel much better reflect the sentiments and convictions of American Jews than the hardline positions of our American Jewish right-wing adversaries.
A current case in point is today’s American Jewish Committee poll, carried out late last month among a national sample of Jews over 18.
As one would expect, the poll reflects the progressive profile of American Jews on domestic affairs. But contrary to the constant challenges we hear from the right, this poll clearly shows a consistency of policy positions both domestic and foreign. On foreign policy matters – including Israel – American Jews are pragmatic, progressive, pro-peace, and definitely not beholden to the hardline policies of Israel’s current government.
Take the question of Iran. Trump has severely criticized the international agreement with Iran over Teheran’s nuclear ambitions, and indicated his intention to reverse it. When asked whether they approve or disapprove of President Trump’s handling of the Iran nuclear issue, 68% said they disapprove (26% strongly disapprove and 42% somewhat disapprove). When asked which foreign nation poses the single greatest danger to the US, only 16% chose Iran. Most (57%) chose North Korea, and others chose Russia (22%) or China (10%).
Or take the question of US-Israel relations. Both the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government depict the relationship between the two leaders and between the two nations as having reached an apex, a level of harmony like never before. But when asked whether they approve of the way Trump is handling the US-Israel relationship, most respondents (54%) said they disapproved. And when asked whether they approve of Netanyahu’s handling of the relationship, a plurality (47%) said they disapproved.
But most impressive – and conclusive – were respondents’ positions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the focus of Americans for Peace Now’s work. Respondents were asked whether they support America’s moving its Israel embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Netanyahu’s government aggressively lobbied the Trump administration to go ahead and make the move now. And Trump and his aides committed to doing it. What do American Jews think? Well, forty-four percent of those polled plainly said that the embassy should not be moved (under any circumstances). Thirty-six percent said that the embassy should only be moved “in conjunction with progress in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks,” and only 16 percent – one in six – said that the embassy should be moved immediately, the official line of the Netanyahu government.
And what about the two-state solution, the unequivocal policy position of the United States for the past 15 years, which the Trump administration is still refusing to officially endorse and the Netanyahu government is indefatigably working to thwart? Well, here the question seems to have been skewed to elicit a low level of support. The wording of the question was: “In the current situation, do you favor or oppose the establishment of a Palestinian state?” Again, “in the current situation,” not “in the context of a comprehensive peace deal,” not “as a result of bilateral negotiations to reach a two-state solution that addresses all outstanding issues,” none of the typical softening formulations.
The results? A full 55% said they favor the creation of a Palestinian state. There is good reason to believe that had the pollsters used the formulation “two-state solution” or “a negotiated two-state solution,” the support rate would have been much higher.
The poll clearly indicates that most American Jews do not ascribe to the Trump-Netanyahu worldview and to their hardline policies. Rather, the pragmatic, balanced approach of Americans for Peace Now – still today as it has in the past – still reflects the opinion of most American Jews.