JPPI’s Voice of the Jewish People Index

Voice of the Jewish People Index

JPPI’s Voice of the Jewish People Index is an ongoing analytic survey conducted among thousands of Jews in the United States who are registered members of a panel assembled under the auspices of the Institute’s Diane and Guilford Glazer Information and Consulting Center.

The panel does not constitute a representative sample of the entire U.S. Jewish population, but it includes participants from all points of the Jewish identity spectrum and allows JPPI to identify trends, positions, and differences among U.S. Jews according to religious affiliation, emotional proximity to Israel, political identity, connection to Judaism, and more.

Voice of the Jewish People Index

The index shows broad consensus among respondents, including Biden supporters, that Israel should enter Rafah in order to defeat Hamas, and that Israel should pay more attention to avoid harming “uninvolved civilians.”

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Main Findings

• Broad consensus among respondents, including Biden supporters, that Israel should enter Rafah in order to defeat Hamas
• High agreement with Biden’s admonition that Israel should pay more attention to avoiding harm of “uninvolved civilians”
• A certain uptick in the proportion of respondents who believe that the US supports Israel “too much”
• A certain increase in the proportion of respondents who believe that Israel is acting “too aggressively” in Gaza
• Widespread disavowal, except from the most liberal cohort, of Senator Schumer’s remarks maintain calling for elections in Israel
• Sweeping disapproval of filmmaker Jonathan Glazer’s remarks at the Oscars ceremony about “using the Holocaust” to “justify the occupation”
• Responses of US Jews regarding the need for the West Bank settlements differ widely from those of Israeli Jews

US Support for Israel

From January to March 2024, there were significant changes in respondents’ assessment of US support for the Israeli war effort. Between January and February, there was a significant uptick among politically centrist Jews (those self-identifying as centrist, conservative leaning, or liberal leaning), who view US support as insufficient. However, from February to March, there was a notable shift, primarily among strong liberals (about a quarter of the survey sample), with more than a quarter of them now believing that the US supports Israel too much, and the proportion who believe US support is “at the right level” has decreased.

This shift, of course, did not occur in a vacuum. Disagreements between the Israeli government and the US government on several issues related to the war have been highlighted in various news reports in recent weeks. Israel has faced sharp public criticism from the political left, including administration officials who claim that the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip is dire, and that Israel must act to improve it. Within the Israeli public (and the Israeli political system), alongside continued gratitude for US support, there is a sense of discomfort with some political ideas raised by the Biden administration regarding the future of Israeli-Palestinian relations. It can be assumed that a gap has emerged between segments of the American Jewish community inclined to accept the Biden administration’s position on the humanitarian situation and the continuation of the war, and the positions of Israeli Jews – the majority of whom support continuing the fighting and disavow American criticism. This situation is evident in the breakdown according to respondents’ voting intentions in the November 2024 elections. There is a significant gap between Jewish Biden supporters (who constitute the majority of the sample – 52%) and Jews intending to vote for Donald Trump (23% of respondents). The rest are undecided or do not intend to vote.

Israel’s Actions

The disagreement between Israel and the US government largely pertains to the question of how aggressively Israel is operating in a reality of severe human population density and inevitable harm to non-combatants. American criticism of Israel has intensified in the past month, and survey respondents are reacting to this criticism.

In February, among the three “middle” groups (leaning liberal, leaning conservative, and centrist) there was a tendency to believe that Israel was operating with the right degree of aggressivity. Among the strong liberal group, there was an increase already in February compared to the previous months criticizing Israel for excessive aggressivity. This month saw a further increase in this assessment. Among strong liberal respondents, the percentage of those stating that Israel is “much too aggressive” rose from 37% to 43%. Among the “leaning liberal” group, the proportion rose from 12% to 18%. The overall change from last month is reflected in the following graph:

Again, in March, the survey found that respondents with greater Jewish communal connection and those who have visited Israel tend to assert more than others that Israel is operating with appropriate aggression. Those who are not connected to the community and those who have not visited Israel generally think so to a lesser extent. Among respondents intending to vote for Biden in November, almost half believe Israel is too aggressive.

Serial Respondents

The question on Israel’s aggressivity appeared in each of the surveys over the past four months. In all of them, American respondents were asked whether they believe that Israel’s actions in Gaza are too aggressive, aggressive to the right level, or not aggressive enough. The question about US support for Israel (at the right level, too much, or too little) was also repeated. Repeating these questions makes it possible to track both the general attitude of the respondents, as reflected in the tables above, as well as the evolving opinions of serial respondents, who answered several consecutive surveys. Since we began asking these two questions – on Israel’s aggression and US support – there have been many significant developments, both in Israel’s military operations and in US-Israel relations. Such developments are, of course, likely to have an effect on how respondents perceive the situation.

This month we examined shifts in the responses of the 65 survey participants who answered the two questions mentioned above in all four monthly surveys since December. Perhaps surprisingly, for the first question, these respondents’ positions remained almost entirely consistent. All but two respondents (97%) have not changed their view of Israel’s actions in Gaza. Their answers were identical in January, February, and March. The majority of these respondents (54%), who have different political orientations, consistently answered that Israel’s actions are appropriately aggressive. A minority (18%) – consisting solely of those who self-identify as “strong liberal” – consistently answered that Israel’s actions are too aggressive.

These findings suggest that perceptions of Israel’s actions in Gaza were crystalized in the initial weeks of the war and remained stable over time.

However, the stability observed for the question of aggressivity was less pronounced with respect to the question on the level of US support for Israel. Again, we examined the responses to repeated questions among the same 65 respondents. In this case, 23% (about a quarter) have changed their view. The largest group among this respondent sample, who did not change their view regarding Israel’s actions in Gaza or US support for Israel, self-identify as “strong liberal,” and believe that Israel is too aggressive and that the American administration supports Israel too much.

Biden’s Statements

In March, we also examined a question regarding statements President Biden made in a television interview. Biden stated: “He [Netanyahu] has a right to defend Israel, a right to continue to pursue Hamas, but he must, he must, he must pay more attention to the innocent lives being lost as a consequence of the actions taken.” Respondents were asked to rate their level of agreement with Biden. Among those intending to vote for the president in November, almost eight out of ten “completely” or “to some extent” agreed with his statements.

Respondents were also asked about another of the president’s assertions in that same interview: “In my opinion, [Netanyahu] is hurting Israel more than helping Israel … [Netanyahu’s military strategy] is contrary to what Israel stands for, and I think it’s a big mistake. So, I want to see a ceasefire.” In this case, agreement with Biden dropped significantly, even among those intending to vote for him.

 

Perhaps surprisingly, Biden voters assessed Netanyahu’s response to Biden’s statements sympathetically. We must exercise caution in drawing conclusions based on this positive assessment, but it may indicate a gap between respondents’ estimation of Israel’s actions in general and the need for extra care not to harm uninvolved civilians, and their assessment of (and indeed, agreement with) Israel’s position that Hamas cannot be defeated without the IDF entering Rafah.

The Voice of the Jewish People respondent panel was specifically asked how Israel should act in light of Biden’s warning against IDF entry into Rafah. We can also learn about support for the Israeli position from the responses, even if there is a desire to avoid dissonance with the administration vis-à-vis this issue. Notably, among respondents intending to vote for Biden, seven out of ten believe that Israel should enter Rafah. The only cohorts with a significant percentage against entering Rafah were the “strong liberal” (26%) and Jews who have never visited Israel (21%).

2024 Elections

The question of support for Israel will obviously not be determinant in how most US Jews vote come November. However, the combination of a contentious American election year, increased Jewish fear of antisemitism, as reflected in Voice of the Jewish People surveys and in other recent polling, and of an Israeli war that pushes American foreign policy to the forefront raises the level of interest in how American Jews will vote. This is further reinforced by the significant sentiment within the Democratic Party – which has won the majority of Jewish votes in the US for over a century – that is sharply critical of Israel.

The Voice of the Jewish People survey does not present a weighted forecast of the voting patterns of American Jews. However, it does allow us to track a trend among a certain group of US Jews. This month’s survey detected a slight decrease in the percentage of survey respondents intending to vote for Biden. Is this due to his relationship with Israel, or is it a temporary and random data anomaly? We will only be able to venture an answer to this question by following the data in the coming months.

Senator Schumer and Jonathan Glazer

In a controversial speech that met with a cold response in Israel and the explicit condemnation of the Israeli prime minister, Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer – a Jew, a Democrat, and a longtime Israel supporter – called for regime change in Israel. His remarks were presented to the respondent panel, and two questions were posed: whether the respondents believe Senator Schumer was correct in calling for new elections in Israel, and whether it was appropriate to make such a statement publicly. As can be seen in the table below, responses were closely linked to political position. Among the conservative cohort, there was disagreement with Schumer’s call for new Israeli elections, and with his decision to make such a statement publicly. Among strong liberals, a large majority believed Schumer was right about the need for Israeli elections – but there is a division between the “lean liberal” cohort, many of whom believe that Schumer’s remarks were inappropriate, and the “strong liberal” group, most of whom believed that he was within bounds expressing his views.

In summary – 60% of the strong liberal cohort believed that it was Schumer’s place to say what he did (whether he was correct as most believe, or not). By contrast, only 34% of the “lean liberal” cohort believed Schumer had the right to make his remarks. In the other respondent groups, a clear majority believed that it was not Schumer’s place to call for elections in Israel (a position shared by the majority of Jews in Israel).

A similar question sought to examine respondent panel sentiment regarding British-Jewish filmmaker Jonathan Glazer’s Academy Awards acceptance speech. He said the following: “Right now we stand here as men who refute their Jewishness and the Holocaust being hijacked by an occupation, which has led to conflict for so many innocent people, whether it is the victims of October 7 or the ongoing attack on Gaza.” In this case, too, the response options examined two aspects: whether respondents agreed with Glazer’s remarks, and whether they believed that they were made at the appropriate  time and place.

As the table below shows, in this case, the responses were much more pronounced. A significant percentage of the “strong liberal” respondents agreed with Glazer’s message and supported the manner in which it was conveyed, while wide majorities within the other cohorts did not agree with either the message or the choice of venue.

Comparison of Positions

As part of the regular and ongoing monitoring of Jewish attitudes worldwide and in Israel, JPPI conducts periodic comparisons between positions held in Israel and in the Diaspora on current issues as well as regarding values ​​that relate more generally to respondent identity. This month, the Voice of the Jewish People survey, presented a question about attitudes toward the Judea and Samaria (West Bank) settlements. As the table below shows, the position of American Jews differs significantly from that of Jews in Israel on this subject. Liberal or liberal leaning Jews, the majority of American Jews, overwhelmingly believe that the West Bank settlements do not contribute to Israel’s security. In fact, 81% of the strong liberal cohort, and 70% of the leaning-liberal cohort, agreed with the statement “Settlements in the territories are a burden on the IDF and harm the security of all Israeli citizens,” compared to 42% of Israeli Jews (as indicated by JPPI’s Israeli Society Index conducted at the beginning of March). In the US, agreement with the claim that the settlements create deterrence and contribute to Israel’s security is primarily found among ultra-Orthodox and Modern Orthodox Jews.

Like Israel’s Jews and Arabs, the majority of US Jews do not believe that Israeli-Palestinian peace is possible in the foreseeable future. This finding holds even among respondents intending to vote for Biden, with 61% agreeing with the statement: “There is no chance of a peace agreement with the Palestinians in the foreseeable future.” This is despite the fact that the Biden administration is seeking to leverage the wartime crisis to initiate a political process aimed at calming and possibly ending the conflict (including support for steps toward establishing a Palestinian state).

A significant gap between the positions of Israeli Jews and the American Jews (as represented by the respondent panel) is revealed when queried not about the “foreseeable future” but about the need to find a solution for long-term peace. Among Jewish Israelis, there is a reluctance to pursue a “long-term peace settlement with the Palestinians.” Among US Jews there is a broad consensus (including among political conservatives and Orthodox Jews, who see less chance of a settlement in the near term than all other cohorts) that there is indeed no substitute for such a settlement.

Sample Data and its Implications

This report is an analysis of a survey administered to approximately 800 American Jews registered for JPPI’s Voice of the Jewish People panel. The survey sample does not allow us to arrive at a weighted figure that represents American Jewry as a whole. However, the number of survey participants from various groups does enable us to identify trends, significant views, and gaps between different Jewish identity groups based on religious affiliation, emotional connection to Israel, political orientation, attachment to Judaism, and more. Roughly speaking, it can be said that this survey tends to reflect the attitudes of US Jews with some connection to the Jewish community, as indicated by a specific question in this regard (which includes data on anyone who stated a connection to some Jewish institution, such as a synagogue, community center, Jewish organization, etc.), as well as data on respondent visits to Israel, which is significantly higher than the average for all US Jews.

Data on survey participants (see table below): about half self-identify as Reform or Conservative; the share of Conservative panel respondents is higher than the percentage among all American Jews. The rate of those unaffiliated with any religious stream is significantly lower than among American Jewry in general, but a fairly high number of unaffiliated respondents in the survey sample (118) allows us to assess the attitudes of this group as well. About 30% of respondents lean conservative, a figure not far from the commonly accepted disaggregation of US Jews by political orientation. Survey participants tend to visit Israel at a substantially higher rate than the American Jewish average, and the share of intermarried panel respondents is relatively low compared to the rate in the general Jewish population.

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