June 2, 2019
The results are in from AJC’s first-ever concurrent surveys of Jewish opinion in the United States, Israel, and France — the world’s three largest Jewish communities, comprising the overwhelming majority of world Jewry.
A major theme shared by American and French Jews is fear for their safety in the face of increased anti-Semitism. The survey also revealed sharp differences between American and Israeli Jews regarding President Trump, U.S.-Israel relations, Israel’s security, and the peace process.
Here are five major takeaways from this year’s findings.
1. A Worsening Situation for American Jews
Not surprisingly after mass shootings at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh and a Chabad synagogue north of San Diego, nearly two thirds of American Jews (65%) feel the status of Jews in the U.S. is less secure than a year ago.
In addition to the Tree of Life massacre, the single deadliest attack on the Jewish community in U.S. history, anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. rose nearly 60% in 2018, according to the FBI. Citing that increase, AJC has asked every member of Congress to join the Bipartisan Taskforce for Combating Anti-Semitism.
The AJC survey also found that 57% of American Jews believe the climate on college campuses is more hostile than last year toward students who support Israel. This result reflects new efforts by the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement (BDS) to target study abroad programs in Israel and mobilize students to urge their universities to adopt BDS policies.
2. A Bleak Future for Jews in France
If alarms weren’t going off already, they are now.– More than half of all French Jews have considered emigrating over the past year (55%), have personally experienced anti-Semitism (58%), and believe that their nation is not effectively combating anti-Semitism (56%). What’s more, half of French Jews think the security of Jews in France has only worsened over the past 12 months.
Of those who have considered leaving France, 21% say they would leave for economic reasons, 17% would leave out of fear for the future of Jews in France, 12% would move out of fear for France’s future, and 5% would leave to seek religious or cultural attractions elsewhere.
For full results and more analysis of this year’s survey results, click here.
3. Are Trump’s Numbers Up or Down? Depends on Who You Ask
In Israel, 79% of Jews somewhat or strongly approve of the way President Trump is handling U.S.-Israel relations, compared to just 36% of American Jews. These numbers crept up slightly from last year in both countries.
Meanwhile, American Jews’ opinion of Trump’s overall job performance hasn’t changed. The president earned an unfavorable rating from 71% of American Jews—the same as last year.
Despite President Trump’s poor approval rating with American Jews, results show that same group is less enamored with the Democratic party. For the first time, less than half (49%) of American Jews self-identified as Democrats, down from 51% last year and 57% the year before that; 20% called themselves independent (down from 24% last year); and 18% identified as Republicans, slightly up from last year’s 16%.
4. Israel’s Importance to the Jewish People
Just how central is Israel to the long-term future of the Jewish people? Very, say a majority of Jews in the U.S., France, and Israel. 91% of Israeli Jews believe that a thriving State of Israel is vital for the community’s long-term future, compared to 72% of American Jews and 53% of French Jews. Meanwhile, 62% of American Jews and 59% of French Jews strongly or somewhat agree that caring about Israel is an important part of being a Jew.
5. Hope for Stronger Israel-Diaspora Relations
Across the board, Jews in all three countries believe a thriving Jewish Diaspora is vital for the long-term future of the Jewish people, with 74% of Israeli Jews, 65% of American Jews, and 51% of French Jews in agreement. Interestingly, the age group that felt most strongly about the importance of a thriving Diaspora was Israeli Jews between 18 and 34.
Many political parties in Israel seem to grasp the importance of these ties. Ahead of the first Israeli elections earlier this year, AJC asked the leaders of all the Zionist parties for their views on the diaspora. All of them affirmed that world Jewry was critically important to Israel’s future as a Jewish state.