JPPI’s Voice of the Jewish People Index

JPPI’s 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.

JPPI’s Voice of the Jewish People Index

Most survey respondents believe that Israel is conducting the war to the right degree of aggressivity or is less than “aggressive” enough.

Main Findings

  • American Jews detect a considerable decline in US support for the Israeli war effort.
  • Most survey respondents believe that Israel is conducting the war to the right degree or is less than “aggressive” enough.
  • The majority of US Jews will vote for Joe Biden in the November presidential elections, and most believe that he would be better for Israel-US relations.
  • Survey respondents believe that Israel will be a “meaningful factor” in deciding who to vote for in November.
  • American Jews rate the importance of Israel’s “moral security policy” higher than Israelis.
  • American Jews rate the importance of Israel’s “Jewish character” higher than Israeli Jews.

Detailed Finding: US Support for Israel

There was a significant decline in how American Jews assess US support for the Israeli war effort from January to February. This decrease is most discernable among politically centrist Jews (including right or left leaning). This is the group that comprises the majority of US Jews, and the change in their opinion is significant. Among respondents self-identifying as politically “centrist,” the proportion in agreement with the statement, “The US does not support Israel enough” rose from 55% to 67%. A similar increase was also evident among “liberal-leaning” and “conservative-leaning” groups. Only in the extreme groups, the “strong liberal” and the “strong conservative,” was there no significant change in attitudes compared to last month.

This decrease in the assessment of American support does not, of course, come in a vacuum: the dispute between the Israeli government and the US administration on several war-related issues has featured in various media reports in recent weeks. Even among Israelis (and in the Israeli political system), aside from continuing to express gratitude to the US for its support, there is a sense of discomfort with some political ideas put forward by the administration regarding future Israeli-Palestinian relations. It can be assumed that the Israeli positions have a certain impact on the attitudes of American Jews vis-à-vis the government.

2024 Presidential Race: Detailed Finding

Support for Israel will not necessarily be decisive in how the majority of US Jews vote, as many studies on previous election campaigns have shown. However, the combination of a highly-charged American election year, an increase in Jewish concerns about rising antisemitism, as reflected in both the Voice of the People surveys and other recent surveys, and about the war in Gaza that makes American foreign policy a more central issue on the political agenda – all of these raise the level of interest in how American Jews will vote come November. This becomes even more intense in the face of a significant proportion of voices within the Democratic Party – which has won the majority of Jewish votes for more than a century – leveling harsh criticism at Israel, which sometimes also involves clear antisemitic undertones.

JPPI’s Voice of the People surveys do not present a weighted picture of voting trends among all American Jews. According to several polls conducted this year, many more Jews will vote for President Biden (according to one survey, three out of four). However, most of these polls were conducted before the onset of the Israel-Hamas war, which may have an impact, at least theoretically, on the upcoming elections. The sense that emerges from the Voice of the People survey is an overwhelming preference of liberal and liberal leaning Jews for Biden, and that “centrist” Jews are leaning toward to Biden, but many of them are still unsure. Conservative Jews are inclined to vote for Trump, although the support intensity of conservative Jews for Trump is not as high as the support intensity of liberal Jews for Biden.

2024 is atypical compared to many previous election years because of the combination of significantly increased concern for Israel, which corresponds to a significant increase in concern for the personal security of Jews in the US. It is possible that this is one reason for the high share of respondents who expressed their intention to regard Israel as a meaningful factor in their decision. But this is not necessarily the main reason for the high figure shown here. The Voice of the People survey sample has an over-representation of US Jews who have visited Israel, identify with Israel, and see the importance of a relationship with Israel. Thus, there is also the possibility that the pronounced tendency to consider the “Israeli issue” as a meaningful factor in deciding how to vote in November may stem from the composition of the panel and not from the events themselves (of course, the most likely hypothesis would be a combination of the two elements – the sample composition, and the events themselves).

Either way, it can be seen that among the respondents, with the exception of the “strong liberal” group, there is a majority across groups for whom Israel will be a “very meaningful” factor in their vote. The number of visits to Israel also has a clear effect on the tendency to include Israel as a meaningful voting consideration.

A separate question about the likely candidates in the specific context of Israel-US relations demonstrates how Biden supporters believe that he will also be better for relations between the countries, while those who prefer Trump hold the opposite view. Given the size of the identity groups in question, most Jews will tend to vote for Biden, and most of them believe that Biden would be the better choice in the context of Israel-US relations.

Detailed Finding: Israel’s Actions

In a repeat question from January’s survey, a certain change was detected in how respondents assess the degree of Israel’s aggressivity in prosecuting the war. Among conservatives, the tendency to believe that Israel is “not aggressive enough” has decreased. That is, there is an understanding that Israel’s actions in Gaza are very significant, and that Israel is not taking a soft approach but is acting decisively within the Strip.

In the three “middle” groups (leaning liberal, leaning conservative and centrist) the tendency is to assert that Israel is acting “with the right amount” of aggressivity. In the strong liberal group, another slight increase was recorded this month (following an increase in January) in the share criticizing Israel for being too aggressive. Fifty-six percent of strong liberal Jews said that Israel is “much too” or “a little too” aggressive.

In accordance with expected political attitudes and social affinity group, those more connected to the Jewish community and those who have visited Israel assert more than others that Israel is acting at the right level of aggressivity. Those who are not connected to the community, and those who have not visited Israel, generally think so at a lower rate.

Detailed Finding: Comparison of Values

As part of JPPI’s regular and ongoing monitoring of the attitudes of Diaspora Jews and Jews in Israel, we periodically conduct comparisons between them vis-a-vis current events, and in relation to values ​​that correspond generally to the respondents’ identity. This month, the Voice of the People survey presented a number of “values” that respondents were asked to rank according to the level of importance they ascribe to them. This list overlapped with a similar list presented in JPPI’s Israeli Society Index survey conducted in January. As can be seen, values ​​such as tolerance, compromise, and equal opportunity, were ranked similarly by Jews in Israel (average of all sectors) and American Jews (with certain evident differences between sectors).

The picture changes somewhat when values ​​ more directly related to Israel are examined. It is more important for US Jews that Israel abides by a “moral” security policy than it is for Jews in Israel. It is equally important to American Jews that the US abides by a moral security policy. This position probably reflects both the fact that US Jews have more liberal positions on most issues, and the fact that they are less exposed to security policy and its impact on daily life than Jews in Israel.

The interesting difference, and perhaps the most surprising, is in the ranking of the importance of Israel’s Jewish character, which American Jews also rate higher than other listed values. Why is this so? Three reasons can be offered: First – Americans have a general tendency to rate values ​​higher than Israelis (there are signs of this in our survey). Second – for Jews in Israel, the country is their home, whether or not it has a Jewish character. For US Jews, Israel loses much of its meaning and centrality if it does not have a Jewish character. The idea of it being a type of “home” is conditional on it having a Jewish character. Third – in Israel, the question of Jewish character touches on controversial questions in matters of religion and state, which cause some Israelis to have reservations about defining Jewishness as a central value.

Data on the survey and its implications

This report is an analysis of a survey administered to 770 American Jews registered for the Jewish People Policy Institute’s Voice of the People panel. The report does not allow us to arrive at a weighted representative sample of American Jewry as a whole. However, the number of survey participants from various groups enables us to identify trends, significant views, and gaps between different groups of Jews based on religious affiliation, emotional connection to Israel, political orientation, attachment to Judaism, and more.

Some data regarding the survey respondents: approximately half are Reform or Conservative, in close congruence with the figures for American Jewry as a whole. The share of those unaffiliated with any religious stream is relatively low, but nonetheless allows us to ascertain significant positions of its members. About 30% of the respondent sample lean conservative, a figure that is not far from the commonly accepted breakdown of Jews by political orientation. Survey respondents tend to visit Israel at a substantially higher rate than the American Jewish average. The share of intermarried respondents is relatively low compared to the rate of intermarriage among the general US Jewish population.