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Ties and Tensions: An Update – The 1989 Survey of American Jewish Attitudes Toward Israel and Israelis

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Publication Date: July 1989

Publisher(s): Institute of American Jewish-Israeli Relations; American Jewish Committee

Author(s): Steven M. Cohen

Special Collection: Berman Jewish Policy Archive

Topic: Culture and religion (Religion and religious groups)
Politics (Political parties and groups)

Keywords: American Jews; Israel Attachment; Israel Advocacy

Type: Report

Coverage: United States


This survey considers the American Jewish community’s position and attitudes in regards to questions relating to Israel and Zionism. Some conclusions

* Despite the intifada, despite the "Who is a Jew?" controversy, American Jews remain firmly attached to Israel.

* Developments in recent months have certainly complicated American Jews' relationship with Israel. Many find themselves in sharp opposition to some Israeli government policies; but this opposition does not seem to undermine basic support for Israel (at least not yet).

* If there is a perceptible change in Jews' attitudes toward Israel over the years, it primarily takes the shape of an increased preference for dovish foreign policies.

* The major driving force behind American Jewish attitudes toward the Israeli-Arab conflict is a quest for security for Israel.

* A particular cause for concern (if not alarm) for Jewish organization leaders, is in the increasingly lukewarm feelings for Israel reported by younger Jews. The slide in pro-Israel sentiment down the entire age ladder is slow but steady. It does not appear to be directly connected with recent events (although one cannot be sure). Rather, chronological distance from the earlier events in Israel's history seems to explain the long-term erosion in Israel attachment.

* Visiting Israel seems to exert a powerful impact on Israel attachment, and more trips result in even higher levels of pro-Israel sentiment.