JULY 2008 POLL: Vast Majority of American Jews Favor Two-State Solution

Sunday, 13 July 2008
JULY POLL: Vast Majority of American Jews Favor Two-State Solution
Date: 13.07.08
Source: JStreet
WASHINGTON— An in-depth survey among the U.S. Jewish community commissioned in July by J Street, the political arm of the pro-Israel, pro-peace movement, finds that the majority of American Jews overwhelmingly support aggressive U.S. leadership to resolve Israeli-Palestinian conflict and view Middle East Peace as a core U.S. interest.

The poll, conducted by Gerstein | Agne Strategic Communications, surveyed 800 self-identified adult American Jews on June 29 - July 3, 2008. The survey has a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percent.

“The survey results are very eye opening. When presented with both sides of the debate over U.S policy in the Middle East, American Jews strongly favor the United States using its leverage to help resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict,” said Gerstein.

Instead of holding the hawkish, hard-line positions often expressed by many established Jewish organizations and leaders, American Jews actually overwhelmingly support assertive peace efforts and an active U.S. role in helping Israelis and Arabs to resolve their conflict.

“American elected officials and politicians have for years fundamentally misread the American Jewish community," said Jeremy Ben-Ami, J Street’s executive director.

"Not only in setting American policy but in charting their political approach to the Jewish community, America's political leaders need to look beyond the loudest voices from the community to the opinions actually held by the broad majority of American Jews. Understanding this dynamic could help shift not only American policy, but dramatically affect the chances for peace and security for Israel and the Middle East."
Among the polls key findings:

  • Middle East Peace Is a Core Interest for the U.S. and for Israel: By a 55 to 30 percent margin, Jews believe Middle East peace is a core American interest. When asked whether military superiority alone or a peace agreement with a strong military would provide better security for Israel, Jews favor a peace agreement by a 50 to 34 margin.
  • On overwhelming 78% of U.S. Jews supprt a two-state solution that declares an end to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, resulting in all Arab countries establishing full diplomatic ties with Israel and creating an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza.
  • America Should be Assertive in Middle East Diplomacy: The survey finds that American Jews strongly support assertive American diplomacy rather than letting the parties work out the conflict on their own. The survey included an extensive exercise, first asking people whether they support the United States playing an active role in helping the parties resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict. Initial support for this general statement is 87 percent. Support remained strong even after respondents were asked if they would still support an active role if it meant the U.S. publicly disagreeing with both the Israelis and Arabs or exerting pressure on both parties to make compromises: 75 percent supported public disagreement 70 percent supported the U.S. applying pressure on Israel. “Firm support” – that is, the number of people who supported all three statements – is 66 percent.
  • American Jews Favor Compromise in Israeli-Arab Negotiations: Jews are very favorably disposed toward the compromises and positions outlined in the 2000 Camp David summit and in other negotiations. Large majorities support negotiating with Israel’s worst enemies (76 percent), withdrawal from the Golan Heights in exchange for full peace like the arrangements with Egypt and Jordan (58 percent) and withdrawal from most of the West Bank (59 percent). Jews overwhelming believe that the Israeli government would not agree to a dangerous peace deal, and 81 percent “will support any agreement the Israelis make with their Arab enemies.”
  • George Bush Not “Best Friend Israel Ever Had”: Sixty-one percent of Jews believe that Israel is less secure as a result of President Bush compared to 25 percent who believe Israel is more secure as a result of his presidency.
  • Pastor Hagee and Christians United for Israel (CUFI) Viewed Very Unfavorably: Pastor Hagee is fairly well-known among Jews (65 percent name identification) and quite disliked (7 percent favorable and 57 percent unfavorable).

The demographics (such as denomination, synagogue attendance, age, region) and political measures (party identification, 2008 Presidential vote) in this survey track other surveys of American Jews, including the 2007 Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, the 2006 American Jewish Committee Annual Survey, and the 2000-2001 National Jewish Population Survey.

Following are the breakdowns of responses to several of the questions presented to respondents. The full results of the poll can be accessed here.

Do you support or oppose the United States playing an active role in helping the parties to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict?

Strongly support................48%
Somewhat support.............40%
Somewhat oppose...............7%
Strongly oppose..................5%

Total Support..................87%
Total Oppose..................13%


(IF SUPPORT ACTIVE ROLE) Would you support or oppose the United States playing an active role in helping the parties to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict if it meant the United States publicly stating its disagreements with both the Israelis and the Arabs?

Strongly support..............41%
Somewhat support...........45%
Somewhat oppose...........11%
Strongly oppose................3%

Total Support................86%
Total Oppose................14%

TOTAL AMONG FULL ADULT SAMPLE [INCORPORATING THOSE OPPOSED]

Total support................75%
Total oppose.................25%

(IF SUPPORT ACTIVE ROLE) Would you support or oppose the United States playing an active role in helping the parties to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict if it meant the United States exerting pressure on both the Israelis and Arabs to make the compromises necessary to achieve peace?

Strongly support...............39%
Somewhat support............41%
Somewhat oppose............13%
Strongly oppose.................6%

Total Support................81%
Total Oppose................19%

TOTAL AMONG FULL ADULT SAMPLE [INCORPORATING THOSE OPPOSED]

Total support...............70%
Total oppose................30%

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As you may know, people often refer to a "two-state solution" when discussing the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. A two-state solution means a peace agreement that establishes a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza alongside the State of Israel. Below are some statements about a two-state solution, and for each statement, please mark whether you agree or disagree with that statement.

I support a two-state solution that declares an end to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, resulting in all Arab countries establishing full diplomatic ties with Israel and creating an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza.

Agree.............78%
Disagree........22%

A two-state solution is necessary to strengthen Israeli security and ensure Israel's Jewish democratic character.

Agree.............75%
Disagree........25%

A two-state solution is an important national security interest for the United States.

Agree.............72%
Disagree........28%


Now, we are going to look at some more specific statements and positions related to peace talks currently taking place between Israelis, Palestinians, and Syrians. For each statement or position, please mark whether you agree or disagree.

(SPLIT A – 400 respondents) Israel's recent cease fire with Hamas has resulted in Hamas ending its rocket attacks from Gaza into southern Israel. This agreement between Israel and Hamas demonstrates that the best path for Israel requires non-military solutions and negotiations to resolve the disputes with the Palestinians.

Agree.............66%
Disagree........34%

(SPLIT B – 400 respondents) Israel's recent cease fire with Hamas has resulted in Hamas ending its rocket attacks from Gaza into southern Israel. This agreement between Israel and Hamas demonstrates that it is important for Israel to negotiate with even its worst enemies, whether it is directly or through third parties.

Agree.............76%
Disagree........24%

In exchange for full peace, including a formal end of conflict with the Palestinians and the establishment of diplomatic relations with the Arab world, Israel will withdraw from most of the West Bank and dismantle many of the Israeli settlements.

Agree.............59%
Disagree........41%

In exchange for full peace, including an end of conflict with the Palestinians and the establishment of diplomatic relations with the Arab world, Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem will become part of the new Palestinian state.

Agree.............44%
Disagree........56%

I trust that the Israeli government would not agree to a peace deal that endangers Israel's security, and I will support any agreement the Israelis make with their Arab enemies.

Agree.............81%
Disagree........19%

(SPLIT A – 400 respondents) Ongoing Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank hurts American interests, violates existing agreements, and constitutes a real obstacle to peace.

Agree.............56%
Disagree........44%

(SPLIT B – 400 respondents) Ongoing Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank hurts American interests, violates existing agreements, and constitutes a real obstacle to peace. The United States should tell Israel to end settlement expansion.

Agree.............52%
Disagree........48%

(SPLIT A – 400 respondents) Israeli military actions that target terrorists, but kill Palestinian civilians create more terrorism instead of preventing terrorism.

Agree.............54%
Disagree........45%

(SPLIT B – 400 respondents) Israel has the right to defend itself, but it must also take into account humanitarian considerations and avoid collective punishment of the entire Palestinian population by closing the borders and causing major civilian hardship/

Agree.............61%
Disagree........39%


Below are some pairs of statements. After reading each pair, please mark whether the FIRST statement or the SECOND statement comes closer to your own view, even if neither is exactly right.

Middle East peace is a core American interest, and the United States should use assertive diplomacy to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict…......….... 55% favor this statement
OR
Only the parties themselves can make peace, and the United States should let the Palestinians and Israelis work out the conflict on their own…....……25% favor this statement


A candidate's position on Israel plays a big role in determining how I will vote for Congress and the President………..…….58% favor this statement
OR
A candidate's position on Israel does not play a big role in determining how I will vote for Congress and the President..……………….34% favor this statement

Israel is more secure as a result of George Bush's presidency because this president understood that Israel's struggle is part of the war on terror, provided unwavering support for Israel, and removed Saddam Hussein………..….........25% favor this statement
OR
Israel is less secure as a result of George Bush's presidency because America is militarily stuck in Iraq, we have less credibility and influence across the Middle East and Iran has become a stronger regional power…………………..61% favor this statement


Do you approve or disapprove of the way George Bush is handling the Arab-Israeli conflict?

Strongly approve............................9
Somewhat approve.......................20%
Somewhat disapprove...................26%
Strongly disapprove......................45%

Total Approve............................29%
Total Disapprove.......................71%

J Street was launched in April 2008 to promote meaningful American leadership to end the Arab-Israeli and Palestinian-Israeli conflicts peacefully and diplomatically. J Street supports a new direction for American foreign policy in the Middle East and a broad public and policy debate about the U.S. role in the region.