Marty Harris is an assistant digital editor at the Lowy Institute.
Pew Research has released a major public opinion report on the attitudes of America's more than 5 million Jewish citizens. Much of the media reporting has focused on a supposed 'identity shift' among Jewish Americans, but the survey also contains some fascinating results concerning the Middle East conflict:
Six-in-ten U.S. Jews are optimistic that a way can be found for Israel and an independent Palestinian state to coexist peacefully, even though about half do not think the current Israeli government is making a sincere effort to bring about a peace settlement and three-quarters say the same about the current Palestinian leadership.
On the prospects of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, it found that:
American Jews are more optimistic than the U.S. general public that a way can be found for Israel and an independent Palestinian state to coexist peacefully; 61% of Jews say this is possible, compared with 50% of the public overall.
And on Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank:
A 44% plurality of American Jews say the continued building of Jewish settlements in the West Bank hurts the security of Israel, while 17% say it helps and 29% say it does not make a difference. By way of rough comparison, a 2013 Pew Research Center survey in Israel found that Israeli Jews have more mixed views: 35% say the continued building of Jewish settlements hurts the security of Israel, 31% say it helps, and 27% say it does not make a difference.
The survey comes at a time when Secretary of State Kerry has just managed to pressure the Israelis and Palestinians to return to the negotiating table. The relevance of the findings is explained by Bruce Stokes over at ForeignPolicy.com:
So, as Washington ramps up its efforts to get the Israelis and Palestinians to fashion a lasting settlement of their differences, there is no uniform American Jewish viewpoint on the peace process. American Jews are hopeful about the objective, but divided on the details. And the view held by many foreigners, that Jewish Americans are knee-jerk supporters of the Israeli position on the Palestinian territories, is just wrong.
Photo by Flickr user Decode Jerusalem.