Attitudes of British Jews towards Israel

A survey of The Attitudes of British Jews towards Israel was published earlier this month. The research examined the nature of British Jewish attachment to Israel and the level of support for its current policies and conduct.

The survey found that British Jews are strongly attached to Israel. 90% of respondents support its right to exist as a Jewish state, 84% express pride in its cultural and scientific achievements, 78% see it as a vibrant and open democracy and 93% say that it forms some part of their identity as Jews.

Beyond their near-universal commitment to Israel as a Jewish state, respondents are divided on most of the political issues confronting the country. But the vast majority of respondents (71% as against 16%) agree that “the two state solution is the only way Israel will achieve peace with its neighbours in the Middle East”. A large majority see settlement expansion as “a major obstacle to peace” (75%:14%) and most respondents also consider that Israel should cede territory “in exchange for guarantees of peace” (62%:25%). On the other hand a clear majority (70%:18%) say that the Palestinians “must recognise Israel as a Jewish state, not just recognise Israel’s right to exist”. Significant majorities also support the propositions that negotiations are “pointless as long as incitement against Israel is taught in Palestinian schools” (63%:30%) and that “there is no credible Palestinian partner for Israel to make peace with” (59%:24%).

The overwhelming majority of respondents (93%) were supportive of Israel’s right to take military action (of some kind) in response to Hamas rocket attacks and infiltration tunnels. However, this group divides 56%:37% between those who think the scale of the military response in 2014 was “proportionate” and those who say it was “disproportionate”.

Generally, members of Orthodox synagogues were more hawkish than members of progressive synagogues or those who are not members of any synagogue. Labour and Lib Dem supporters were more dovish than floating voters, Conservatives and UKIP supporters; Green supporters were most dovish.

Click here to read the full survey. It make interesting reading.

This research was conducted by a team at City University led by Professor Stephen Miller with data collection from March to July 2015 by Ipsos MORI. The research was sponsored by Yachad, a pro-Israel, pro-peace campaigning group.

The results of this survey are not dissimilar to a survey conducted by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research in 2010. The JPR 2010 survey found that 82% of respondents said Israel plays a ‘central’ or ‘important ’ role in their Jewish identities; two-thirds (67%) favour giving up territory for peace with the Palestinians; almost three-quarters (74%) are opposed to the expansion of existing settlements in the West Bank and a large majority (78%) favour a two-state solution.

Given all that has happened in the Middle East since 2010, the consistency of British Jewish attitudes as shown by these two surveys (conducted by different organisations and with different sponsors) is striking.

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