Article Library / Structured Jewish World Dialogue

Jerusalem and the Jewish People: Unity and Division

This year we added another standard question to our JPPI survey of Dialogue participants, which teaches us something about the way Jews – the Jews represented in the Dialogue – generally view the state of affairs for Israel and world Jewry.

The answer we got clearly shows that with all the criticism leveled at Israel and its policies (for example, in the peace question – see previous appendix), Jews see Israel as being in a much better shape than world Jewry writ large. More than 80 percent of Dialogue participants see Israel as “strong and thriving” (graph 36). In contrast, just over half of them say the same about “the Jewish world outside Israel” (graph 37). On the other hand, only a small group of Dialogue participants see Israel as “deteriorating and weakening,” whereas a much more substantial group sees the Jewish world “outside Israel” as “deteriorating and weakening.”

Notably, the group most inclined to describe Israel as “deteriorating” is the “secular” group – nearly 15 percent of Dialogue participants. A significant 30 percent of these participants have a bleaker view of Israel than the majority of participants. On the other side of the spectrum, the group most inclined to describe the Jewish world outside Israel as “deteriorating” is the group of “traditional” Jews (graph 38) – a smaller group representing 5.4 percent of Dialogue participants. Among Orthodox participants, a slight majority hold a negative view of Jewish world trends. Reform Jews are the most positive when characterizing the state of the Jewish would outside Israel, although even among this group a significant 35 percent opted for the “deteriorating and weakening” choice when answering our survey question.

A significant gap in the assessment of Israel’s direction is also easily detectable when we sort the answers by age (graph 39). The youngest Dialogue age cohort holds the bleakest view of Israel’s situation. They were most likely (31 percent) to say that Israel is “deteriorating and weakening” and the least likely (69 percent) to describe the country as “strong and thriving.” There was no such difference by age in assessing the Diaspora’s situation.

Another notable and telling difference in assessment is between American and non-American Jews on the question concerning the Jewish world outside Israel (graph 40). As you can see in the graph, American Dialogue participants tended to have a much more positive view of the Jewish world outside of Israel. A clear majority of American Dialogue participants believe that the Jewish world is strong and thriving, while a majority of all other Jews (Europeans, Australians, Brazilians, Israelis) believe that the Jewish world outside Israel is deteriorating and weakening. Of course, we do not know what accounts for this difference in assessment. It could be that the Jews of America feel that their community is strong and therefore merits the “strong and thriving” tag, while other Jews see more problems in their communities. Or it could be a difference in outlook on similar trends. There was no significant difference between Americans and non-Americans when assessing Israel’s situation.