An American Jewish Committee survey of U.S. and Israeli Jewish millennials shows that Israel-Diaspora relations remain strong but also indicates points of divergence regarding what role Diaspora Jews should have in influencing Israeli policies, anti-Semitism in the United States and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The first-ever parallel survey of Jews, ages 25 to 40, was conducted by YouGov in the United States and Geocartography in Israel for ACCESS, AJC’s young professional program and AJC’s Contemporary Jewish Life Department.

“Gauging the views of millennials is critical to ensuring strong, enduring ties between the world’s two largest Jewish communities,” said Dana Steiner, director of AJC ACCESS Global. “Our pioneering surveys provide vital insights into the thinking of emerging leaders engaged in Jewish life that will be critical to strengthen mutual understanding and cooperation between American and Israeli Jews, and also address challenges and opportunities.”

Significant majorities of American (72%) and Israeli (89%) Jewish millennials say it is important that the American Jewish community and Israel maintain close ties, with 48% of Americans and 46% of Israelis saying it is very important.

Some 80% of millennial Israelis and 70% of millennial American Jews think a strong State of Israel is necessary for the survival of the Jewish people, and 81% of Americans and 70% of Israelis think a strong Jewish community outside of Israel is necessary.

A majority, 59%, of American Jewish millennials feel a personal responsibility to help fellow Jews in Israel, with a quarter, 26%, saying they feel a great deal of responsibility. Among Israeli millennials, 9% feel a great deal of responsibility to help fellow Jews in the United States, 33% feel some responsibility, 30% feel not much and 18% feel none.

Looking at how each community perceives Israeli care for Jews in the United States, 18% of American Jews and 11% of Israelis think Israelis care about U.S. Jews very much; 22% of Americans and 46% of Israelis care quite a lot; and 35% of Americans and 30% of Israelis care somewhat. In contrast, 17% of Americans and 4% of Israelis think Israelis do not care at all about American Jews.

Regarding perceptions of how American Jews care about Israelis, 27% of Americans and 17% of Israelis think U.S. Jews care very much about Israel; 34% of Americans and 50% of Israelis think they care quite a lot; 29% of Americans and 21% of Israelis think American Jews care somewhat; and 5% of Americans and 3% of Israelis say they don’t care at all.

Some 55% of U.S. Jews say being connected to Israel is important to their Jewish identity, while 44% do not. In addition, 54% of American Jewish millennials feel emotionally attached to Israel; 26% say their emotional attachment to Israel has grown in recent years, and 25% say it has lessened and 48% say it has remained the same.

Impact of anti-Israel climate

While the AJC survey shows two communities sharing much in common, it also revealed are disturbing trends within the U.S. Jewish community’s younger cohort, including:

  • 28% of American Jewish millennials say that the anti-Israel climate on campus or elsewhere has damaged their relationships with friends, while 44% say it has not.
  • 26% say it is OK and 66% say it is not OK to distance themselves from Israel to better fit in among friends.
  • 23% reported that the anti-Israel climate on campus or elsewhere has forced them to hide their Jewish identity; 46% say it has not, and 11% say there is no anti-Israel climate in the United States.
  • 28% say the anti-Israel climate on campus and elsewhere has made them rethink their own commitment to Israel and 54% say it has not.

Israeli policy decisions

Some 55% of American Jews and 22% of Israelis say it is appropriate for American Jews to try to influence Israeli policy, while 36% of Americans and 69% of Israelis say it is not appropriate.

On which Israeli policies American Jews should try to influence,

  • 50% of Americans and 50% of Israelis chose relations with the United States.
  • 23% of Americans and 25% of Israelis chose religious policy.
  • 23% of Americans and 26% of Israelis chose security.
  • 20% of Americans and 17% of Israelis chose relations with the Palestinians.
  • 16% of Americans and 14% of Israelis chose treatment of minorities and migrants.
  • 10% of Americans and 28% of Israelis chose economic policy.
  • 11% of Americans and 10% of Israelis environmental policy.

There also was divergence on the question of Israel considering the well-being of American Jews in making policy decisions. 22% of American Jews and 7% of Israelis said Israel very much should consider the well-being of American Jews, 24% of Americans and 26% of Israelis said quite a lot, 31% of Americans and 39% of Israelis said somewhat, and 13% of Americans and 20% of Israelis replied not at all.

Anti-Semitism in the United States

Some 53% of American Jews and 76% of Israelis say the recent wave of anti-Semitic events in the United States is the result of demonizing campaigns against Israel and Jews, while 18% of Americans and 6% of Israelis say it is a natural result of Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians. 20% of Americans and 9% of Israelis say it is neither.

Only 9% of Israelis think American Jews experience very little anti-Semitism in their daily lives, while 10% say they experience it very much, 28% quite a lot and 46% somewhat.

Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, 52% of Americans and 24% of Israelis say a viable solution to the conflict is possible.

Among those who say a solution is possible:

  • 52% of Israelis and 47% of American Jews favor two independent Israeli and Palestinian states living side by side.
  • 23% of Americans and 5% of Israelis favor one binational state with a single government elected.
  • 15% of Americans and 19% of Israelis favor Israeli annexation, leading to an extension of Israeli sovereignty in which Palestinians have a unique civil status and are represented by Palestinian municipal leaders.
  • 5% of Americans and 6% of Israelis favor status quo management of the conflict.

The AJC survey of 1,001 Israeli Jews, ages 25-40, was conducted by Geocartography from Feb. 14 to Feb. 22. The AJC survey of 800 American Jews, ages 25-40, was conducted by YouGov between Feb. 9 and March 30.

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