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Poll shows deep divisions between Israelis and American Jews

June 10, 2018 at 3:27 pm

Graffiti depicting US Donald Trump when he visited Jerusalem’s Western Wall, which Jews claim as their holiest site, is seen on the illegal Separation Wall in the occupied West Bank. [AsafRonel/Twitter]

An opinion poll published on Sunday shows deep divisions between Israelis and American Jews, particularly in relation to President Donald Trump, highlighting the growing rift between the world’s two largest Jewish communities.

The survey of the American Jewish Committee showed 77 percent of Israelis approved of the president’s handling of US-Israel relations, while only 34 percent of American Jews did. Fifty-seven percent of US Jews disapproved, while only 10 percent of Israelis did.

The polarising Trump recently recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and relocated the American Embassy there, upending decades of US foreign policy and an international consensus that the city’s fate should be decided through peace negotiations.

Palestinians and the international community were outraged by the move and cut all contacts with the US in response. East Jerusalem is recognised as occupied Palestinian territory under international law.

Eighty-five percent of Israelis supported the embassy move, while only 46 percent of American Jews did.

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The AJC surveyed 1,000 Israelis and Americans and had a margin of error of 3.1 and 3.9 percent, respectively.

The survey was released ahead of the opening of the AJC Global Forum in Jerusalem, which Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will address later Sunday.

Netanyahu has forged a close bond with Trump, and their hard-line policies toward the Palestinians have strong support in Israel and among its Republican backers in the US.

But most American Jews are Democrats who are highly critical of Trump and Netanyahu. Experts have been warning for years that the two communities are drifting in opposite directions politically, undermining the kinship between the two groups, which make up the vast majority of Jews in the world.

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The poll showed 59 percent of Americans favoured the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel but only 44 percent of Israelis supported the idea.

The vast majority of American Jews identify as either Reform or Conservative, the more liberal streams of Judaism that have a very small foothold in Israel.

On one of the most contentious issues, regarding a mixed-gender prayer area next to Jerusalem’s Western Wall, 73 percent of American Jews express support, compared to just 42 percent of Israelis.

Report by The New Arab.