Sunday, June 10, 2018

American Jews are Republican and Anti-Zionist in Roughly Equal (Tiny) Numbers

The American Jewish Committee has released its 2018 survey of American Jewish opinion (along with Israeli Jewish opinion -- and they conveniently offer a side-by-side comparison here).

A lot of it is predictable: American Jews loathe Trump, support gun control, support DACA, and oppose greater immigration restrictions. Some of it doesn't surprise me but might surprise some: American Jews think Trump is doing a lousy job handling the U.S./Israel relationship, think Russia is the greatest threat to America (well ahead of Iran and North Korea, in a statistical dead heat for second), and think caring about Israel is important to our identities as Jews.

(One area I desperately wish the AJC had polled on is on Jewish attitudes towards BDS -- both "support/oppose" numbers as well as "a lot/somewhat/a little/not at all antisemitic" numbers).

But if one digs into the data a bit more, there are some fun observations to be had. For one, American Jews continue to overwhelmingly identify as Democrats (51% versus 16% Republicans). This tracks 2016 voting patterns, where 60% of respondents voted for Clinton versus 19% for Trump.

The survey doesn't ask about Zionist identity, but it does ask whether respondents believe Israel can be a Jewish and democratic state, and then asks those who say no whether it should be Jewish or democratic. If we use the "no, and it should be a democratic state" as a rough proxy for anti-Zionist -- well, that figure is 20%.

So basically, the proportion of American Jews who are anti-Zionist is about the same as the proportion of American Jews who are Republican -- and in both cases, it is less than the proportion of Idaho voters who backed Hillary Clinton. Which is to say, in the scheme of things, both are trivial. (Incidentally, the percentage of American Jews who oppose a two-state solution "in the current situation" sits at about 30% -- not quite as tiny, but still pretty small).

Of course, that a given topical minority is rather small doesn't mean that it shouldn't have a voice, and I'm agnostic as to exactly how much of a voice such a group should have in broader Jewish communal affairs. There's a fine line to be drawn between pluralism and representativeness.

But equally-sized groups should be treated equally. As much (or as little) attention as we pay and influence we accord to Jewish Republicans is precisely as much as should be meted out to Jewish anti-Zionists. Fair is fair, after all.

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