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Jewish Values and Israel’s Use of Force in Armed Conflict: Perspectives from World Jewry

  1. The report was written by Shmuel Rosner, Senior Fellow of the Jewish People Policy Institute. Rosner and Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Michael Herzog headed the Dialogue project for 2015. Dr. Dov Maimon and Inbal Hakman took part in moderating several seminars within the Dialogue framework. Chaya Ekstein managed the project and was most helpful in gathering background material and analyzing data. The report was edited by Rami Tal and Barry Geltman.
  2. The Jewish People Policy Institute discussions, both in the communities and in Glen Cove, were held in accordance with Chatham House Rules, i.e., participants may be quoted, but without specific attribution. This decision was meant to ensure an open and free discussion. This report quotes extensively from the Jewish People Policy Institute discussions, without naming the speakers. Participant names are listed in Appendix D.
  3. A complete list of the communities in which the seminars were held appears in the report appendices.
  4. The cases that were presented to the participants related to combat in Jenin during Operation Defensive Shield in 2002, to infrastructure bombings in Lebanon during the Second Lebanon War in 2006, and to the explosion of towers in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge in 2014.
  5. Seminar in Atlanta, Georgia, March 26, Shmuel Rosner’s notes.
  6. Seminar in Dallas, Texas, April 17 2015, Shmuel Rosner’s notes.
  7. Seminar at the American Jewish University (AJU), Los Angeles, April 14, Shmuel Rosner’s notes.
  8. Seminar in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, moderated by Gregg Roman, on April 13, notes taken by Elayna Tell.
  9. Seminar in Stamford, Connecticut, March 29, Shmuel Rosner’s notes.
  10. Seminar in Brazil, organized by Alberto Milkewitz, quoted from Milkewitz’s summary of the discussions in Brazil.
  11. Seminar in St. Louis, Missouri, moderated by Barry Rosenberg, April 7, notes taken by Cyndee Levy.
  12. Cleveland, Ohio seminar, March 31, notes by Jen Schwarz.
  13. St. Louis seminar.
  14. Seminar in Melbourne, Australia, moderated by John Searle, February 22, notes taken by Emily Gian.
  15. Tenafly, New Jersey seminar, with a group of Israeli-Americans, organized by Moatza, March 23, notes by Shmuel Rosner.
  16. Masa, Career group seminar, February 22, notes by Chaya Ekstein.
  17. Glen Cove brainstorming session, May 18-19.
  18. See: “Reluctant or Repressed? Aversion to Expressing Views on Israel Among American Rabbis.”
  19. Seminar in Johannesburg, South Africa, April 15, moderated by Wayne Sussman.
  20. Brazilian seminar conclusions.
  21. Seminar in Chicago, Illinois, March 26, notes taken by Shmuel Rosner.
  22. According to Israeli official data over 14,000 rockets and mortar shells have been fired from Gaza into Israel from 2005 until June 30th 2014, and over 4000 projectiles were fired during Operation Protective Edge. See:
  23. Operation Cast Lead: 13 Israeli casualties and 1,200-1,391 Palestinian casualties; Operation Pillar of Defense: 6 Israeli casualties and 167 Palestinian casualties; Operation Protective Edge: 73 Israeli Casualties and 2,140 Palestinian casualties. See:
  24. See: Gabi Siboni, “Challenges of Warfare in Densely Populated Areas,” Military and Strategic Affairs, Special Issue, April 2014.
    “Israel is special because the irregulars who fight it do so not in far-away countries, thousands of kilometers away, but on its own borders, only a few dozen kilometers from Israel’s own population centers. And this gives them the unique capability to strike at these centers as their chief strategy.”
  25. Dan Efroni, “Challenges Posed by International Law in the Context of Urban Warfare Insights from Operation Pillar of Defense,” Military and Strategic Affairs, Special Issue, April 2014.
  26. Obviously, confusing “morality” with “law” is problematic. But in many countries today, especially in the west, international law is considered as the most specific expression of moral norms that should be expected of countries in armed conflicts. It should also be mentioned that “the legality of Israel’s actions are not synonymous with issues concerning the legitimacy of these actions in the international arena” (See: Pnina Sharvit Baruch, “Operation Protective Edge: Legality and Legitimacy,” INSS, July 2014).
  27. For the full Goldstone report see: The report accused both Israel and the Palestinian armed groups of war crimes, recommending that both sides conduct internal investigations. Goldstone later distanced himself from the report, claiming that if he had known some of the information only subsequently revealed, the report would have been different. See: the-goldstone-report-on-israel-and-war-crimes/2011/04/01/AFg111JC_story.html
  28. See:
  29. See:
  30. The Prime Minister’s Office and Foreign Ministry gave the green light for an unofficial delegation to testify before the group, Times of Israel, Jan. 15, 2015.
  31. The Prime Minister’s Office and Foreign Ministry gave the green light for an unofficial delegation to testify before the group, Times of Israel, Jan. 15, 2015.
  32. See, for example: “Gaza conflict: Schabas quits UN inquiry over bias claims”, BBC.
  33. See: Tovah Lazaroff, “UN Gaza war probe to also investigate Palestinian human rights violations,” Jerusalem Post, March 2015.
  34. See: “U.N. Says Israeli Military Actions Killed 44 Civilians in Schools in Gaza War,” NYT, April 27, 2015.
  35. See: Robbie Sabel, “Operation Cast Lead and International Law,” Strategic Assessment, Feb. 2009.
  36. For further discussion see: William Saletan, “Israel’s Unprecedented Steps to avoid civilian casualties,” The National Post, July 16, 2014.
  37. Dov Waxman, “Judging Israel’s War,” Jewish Quarterly, Nov. 2014.
  38. The shrinking Jewish Middle — and how to expand it,” Steven M. Cohen and Jack Wertheimer, JTA, November 2014.
  39. “The trend toward fragmentation and weakening the center — those trends are already in place and they’re just going to gallop forward now,” said Theodore Sasson, a Jewish-studies professor at Middlebury College and author of “The New American Zionism.” “It’s going to make Israel an even more divisive issue in the American Jewish community.”
    Rachel Zoll, “Post-election, a widening U.S. Jewish split over Israel,” AP, March 2015.
  40. This is readily supported by surveys that assess different countries’ status in world public opinion; Israel ranks near the bottom in such surveys, alongside such countries as Iran and North Korea (for example: ).
  41. See the following Pew study:
  42. See J Street’s November 2014 poll, which found 84% in favor of an agreement with Iran based on the parameters noted in the question as formulated: “Now, imagine that the U.S., Britain, Germany, France, China, Russia, and Iran reach a final agreement, which restricts Iran’s enrichment of uranium to levels that are suitable for civilian energy purposes only, and places full-time international inspectors at Iranian nuclear facilities to make sure that Iran is not developing nuclear weapons. Under this agreement, the United States and our allies will reduce sanctions on Iran as Iran meets the compliance benchmarks of the agreement. Would you support or oppose this agreement?”
  43. See the April 2015 Gallup poll that found a drop in support for Obama among Jews. Although most (54%) support him, the gap in his favor narrowed more among Jews than in other groups. Gallup researchers explained this finding as follows:
    “How much further this gap may shrink in the months ahead remains to be seen, and will depend in part on the future of the relationship between Obama and Israeli leadership. This in turn will reflect the status of the pending agreement with Iran that would restrict that country’s nuclear activity in return for a further loosening of economic sanctions. Other administration actions relating to Israel, including support for a possible two-state solution to the Palestinian situation, could also affect Jewish attitudes toward the president going forward.”
  44. “Netanyahu’s Planned Congress Speech Splits U.S. Jewish Organizations,” Washington Post, Feb. 28, 2015.
  45. See: Laurie Goodstein, “Netanyahu Tactics Anger Many U.S. Jews, Deepening a Divide,” New York Times, March 2015; Debra Nussbaum Cohen, “American Jews Learn to Talk with Other American Jews about Israel,” Haaretz, April 2015.
  46. See: “Europe’s Leaders Bridle at Netanyahu Call for Jewish Exodus,” Bloomberg, Feb. 16, 2015.
  47. Cnaan Liphshiz, “Aliya Debate Exposes French Jewry’s Internal Fault Lines,” JTA, March 18, 2015.
  48. Seminar in Paris, France, March 3, moderated and notes by Dr. Dov Maimon.
  49. The comment refers to the Prime Minister’s controversial remarks about the Arabs “stampeding to the polls” and also about his comments about the chances for a two-state solution.
  50. See:
  51. The quote regarding Olmert is from an article in the American-Jewish newspaper “A surreal Visit,” Forward, Nov. 17, 2006. Several of the examples that appear here also appeared in: Shmuel Rosner, “American Jews Are Disappointed with Israel’s Election? Tough Luck,” Jewish Journal, March 2015.
  52. Daniel Gordis, “American Jews Finding it Harder to Like Israel,” Bloomberg, March 20, 2015.
  53. Rob Eshman, “American Jews and the Israeli Election,” Jewish Journal, March 18, 2015.
  54. See: Ilan Zvi Baron, Obligation in Exile The Jewish Diaspora, Israel and Critique (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2015).
  55. The broader issue of Diaspora Jews’ sense of connection to, or detachment from, Israel is a controversial one. For a more in-depth discussion, see: Shmuel Rosner and Inbal Hackman, “The Challenge of Peoplehood: Strengthening the Attachment of Young American Jews to Israel at a Time of Distancing Discourse,” JPPI, 2012.
  56. See: Shmuel Rosner, Shtetl, Bagel, Baseball: on the Wonderful and Dreadful State of American Jewry. (Jerusalem: Keter, 2011) pp. 174-177. [Hebrew language]
  57. See: “Reform Leader Raps J Street’s Gaza Stance,” JTA, Eric Fingerhut, Jan. 2009.
  58. Josh Nathan-Kazis, “J Street’s Gaza War Support Wins ‘Moderate’ Praise – but Alienates Some Backers,” Forward, July 2014.
  59. Roger Cohen, “Zionism and its Discontents,” New York Times, July 2014.
  60. David Schanzer, “Israel Can’t Afford to Lose Jews Like Me,” The World Post, November 2014. Schanzer’s article was written in response to Shmuel Rosner’s article, “Israel’s Fair-Weather Fans,” New York Times, August, 2014.
  61. See: http://www.publicseminx`
  62. Jonathan Freedland, “Liberal Zionism after Gaza,” New York Review of Books, July 2014.
  63. Jonathan Chait, “Israel Is Making It Hard to be Pro-Israel,” New York Magazine, July 2014.
  64. Leon Wieseltier, “Israel and Gaza: a Just and Unjust War,” The New Republic, August 2014.
  65. Yehuda Kurtzer, “The Politics of Loyalty,” The Jewish Week, May 2015.
  66. Shmuel Rosner’s notes.
  67. “Wide gaps in the reading of realities in the Middle East among Jews in Israel and around the world – gaps that should be expected in a world of diverse views – justify an ongoing exchange spanning all perspectives and streams.”
  68. Masa Career group, notes by Chaya Ekstein.
  69. Johannesburg seminar.
  70. Seminar at AJU.
  71. Seminar in New York, March 30, notes by Shmuel Rosner.
  72. Seminar in Washington DC, April 19, Notes taken by Shmuel Rosner.
  73. Seminar in Toronto, Canada, April 21, Shmuel Rosner’s notes.
  74. Seminar in London, UK, moderated by Vivian Wineman, March 22, notes by Joseph Moses.
  75. For additional discussion see the Institute report: Israel as a Jewish and Democratic State: Views of Diaspora Jewry, JPPI, 2014, pp. 57-65.
  76. Cleveland seminar, notes taken by Carol Wolf.
  77. Cleveland seminar, notes by Shelly Fishbach.
  78. Paris seminar.
  79. Seminar in Glenside, Australia, moderated by Alison Marcus, March 15, notes by Merrilyn Ades.
  80. “One fundamental justification for Israel’s existence is that Judaism is clearly applied when it is necessary to take crucial decisions that involve life and security. And when we talk Judaism it is not enough to consult only with Israeli citizens. In some cases, Israel, as the Jewish State, willing or not, talks in the name of the Jewish people. Because of this, Jewish communities all over the world must be consulted as a main partner and support for Israel.” Brazil seminar conclusions.
  81. “Israel’s actions (particularly in the military sphere) often impact negatively on Diaspora Jewry. Israel has to do what it needs to protect its citizen regardless of this fallout. Israel should nevertheless be open to hearing views of Jews in the Diaspora. Not only because unpopular Israeli policies impact negatively on Jewish communities elsewhere, but the latter are primarily motivated by a desire for Israel to do what is best for itself. And since their own wellbeing is tied up with that of Israel, their views should be taken into account.”
  82. See Israel’s Declaration of Independence.
  83. See: Jack Wertheimer, “The Fragmentation of American Jewry and Its Leadership,” JCPA, 2008:
  84. Yehudah Mirsky, “Peoplehood – Thin and Strong: Rethinking Israel-Diaspora Relations for a New Century.” Toward 2030: Strategies for the Jewish Future. Ed. Rami Tal and Barry Geltman. (Jerusalem: Jewish People Policy Institute, 2010) pp. 37-61.
  85. A description of differing perspectives can be found in: Robbie Gringras, Robert Orkand, “Should we Hug or Wrestle with Israel?” Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), Makom: Renewing Israel Engagement, April 6, 2009.
  86. See: Theodore Sasson, “Mass Mobilization to Direct Engagement: American Jews” Changing Relationship to Israel,” Israel Studies, volume 15, number 2, (2010) pp. 173-195.
  87. The conference was held in Glen Cove, Long Island. Information on the participants can be found in the Appendix. The above quote is from the notes taken by Shmuel Rosner during the discussion.
  88. For example, an ADL/Begin-Sadat Center survey according to which “62% [of Israelis] say that American Jewry has the right to freely and publicly criticize Israel and its policies; this is over twice the percentage of Israelis who think otherwise.”
  89. “A New Relationship between Israel and the Diaspora,” Forward, March 28, 2014.
  90. See: “Israel to Spend Billions on Initiative to Bolster Jewish Identity in Diaspora,” Jerusalem Post, January 13, 2014.
  91. See: Sixth Annual B”nai B”rith World Center Survey of Contemporary Israel Opinion Toward Diaspora Jewry Finds: Israelis have strong, personal connection to Diaspora Jewry (
  92. See: The Fourth Annual Bnai Brith Survey of Contemporary Israeli Attitudes Towards World Jewry, 2009 and the ADL-Begin Sadat Poll.
  93. The Seventh Annual B”nai B”rith World Center Survey on Contemporary Israeli Attitudes Toward Diaspora Jewry.
  94. Support levels differ significantly among Israelis based on political party affiliation. See: Shmuel Rosner, “The Israelis Who Would Not Support Diaspora Jews,” Jewish Journal, June 2012.
  95. See: “Half of Israelis: Allow Reform Jews to Marry and Convert,” Zvika Klein, NRG, June 2014.
  96. The survey was conducted by Lazar via the Panels Politics Institute. The questionnaire was compiled in consultation with Shmuel Rosner and was administered to 505 Jewish Israelis. It was conducted during April 22-26 2015. The survey’s maximum sampling error is 4.3%. The findings are provided here courtesy of Menachem Lazar.
  97. See: A Portrait of Israeli Jews: Beliefs, Observance, and Values of Israeli Jews, Israel Democracy Institute, 2009. Research Team Leader: Asher Arian, Report: Ayala Keissar-Sugarmen (
  98. This was discussed in: Shmuel Rosner, “Whose Jerusalem Is It, Anyway?” Slate Magazine, 2008.
  99. An interesting example of this politically-informed perspective on World Jewry can be found in the 2010 Peace Index, where Israeli respondents were asked to give the reasons for young Diaspora Jews’ “distancing” from Israel. Although the question’s underlying premise was incorrect (see: Shmuel Rosner, and Inbal Hakman, “The Challenge of Peoplehood: Strengthening the Attachment of Young American Jews to Israel in the Time of the Distancing Discourse,” JPPI, 2012), much can be learned from the answers given by the Israeli respondents. The more religiously observant the respondents were, the more they tended to attribute the “distancing” to weakened Jewish identity; the more secular the respondents, the more likely they were to ascribe it to Israeli policy toward the Conservative and Reform streams of Judaism and toward the Palestinians.
  100. Though this could possibly be explained by an Israeli expectation that Diaspora Jewry’s financial support will solve “social problems.”
  101. It should, of course, be noted that this survey asked the respondents to choose one of several options; it is entirely possible that Israelis whose first choice was consultation in order to improve relations with the US actually also support consultation in other areas, but not to the same degree.
  102. See the previous footnote. The choice of other options does not necessarily mean that respondents had reservations about consultation on “Military and security issues;” it merely indicates that this is a higher priority for the respondents with regard to consultation as well.
  103. See: Shmuel Rosner, “What do Israelis want from Diaspora Jews? EVERYTHING,” Jewish Journal, June, 2012, based on findings of a survey for the Israeli Presidential Conference 2012.
  104. For a chart presenting the survey findings (The Israeli Presidential Conference, 2012):
  105. Similar differences between differing political orientations were also evident; those on the political left overwhelmingly (74% versus 17%) chose the “strong and thriving” option, compared with a smaller majority of religious Israelis (59% versus 30%). No significant differences were found between age groups.
  106. For information on this Ruderman Family Foundation-commissioned survey, see: Haviv Rettig Gur, “Most Israelis Think Future Dependent on American Jewry,” Times of Israel, Nov. 2013.
  107. See: Harriet Hartman and Moshe Hartman, “Denominational Differences in the Attachment to Israel of American Jews,” Review of Religious Research, 2000.
  108. See: Rosner and Hakman, “The Challenge of Peoplehood: Strengthening the Attachment of Young American Jews to Israel in the Time of the Distancing Discourse”
  109. See: Theodore Sasson, Charles Kadushin, Leonard Saxe, “Trends in American Jewish Attachment to Israel: An Assessment of the ‘‘Distancing’’ Hypothesis,” Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies 2010.
  110. For more information, see: Shmuel Rosner, “Bipartisan support for Israel? What if that’s no longer the case?” Jewish Journal, April 2015.
  111. For example, a 2012 J Street election eve survey. More information in: Shmuel Rosner, “The Rosner-Gerstein Exchange, Part 2: Are American Jews Becoming Less Attached to Israel?,” Jewish Journal, January 2013.
  112. See: A Portrait of Jewish Americans, Pew, Chapter 5: Connection with and Attitudes toward Israel.
  113. The data were processed by Professor Ted Sasson, based on the Pew survey.
  114. The concept “Jews not by religion” refers to American survey respondents who claim no religious affiliation when asked what faith they belong to, but indicate in other ways that they see themselves as Jews. Recent studies have shown that these American Jews participate far less in activities of a Jewish character, and are much less attached to Israel than are other Jews. See: Shlomo Fischer, “Who are the “Jews by Religion” in the Pew Report?” JPPI, 2013.
    Shmuel Rosner, “‘Jews Not by Religion’: How to Respond to American Jewry’s New Challenge,” JPPI, 2013.
  115. Further discussion of this topic can be found in scholar Ted Sasson’s New American Zionism. In one study that he conducted, Sasson identified “three main arguments” (not the four issues to which we call attention here) that are driving what is referred to as the “discourse on distancing:” the historical argument, mixed marriage and political rifts.
  116. This expression appears in many different publications, including: Ofira Seliktar, Divided We Stand: American Jews, Israel, and the Peace Process, (CT: Praeger Publishers, 2002) Page 22.
  117. Steven Cohen and Ari Kelman, “Beyond Distancing: Young Adult American Jews and Their Alienation from Israel,” 2007; Steven Cohen, “A Tale of Two Jewries: the Inconvenient Truth for American Jews,” 2006.
  118. Shmuel Rosner, “Agreeing to Disagree: Jewish Peoplehood: between Attachment and Criticism,” JPPI, 2012.
  119. Glen Cove notes by Barry Geltman.
  120. Cleveland seminar, notes by Stephanie Kahn.
  121. This survey was part of a study by Professor Nissim Mizrachi of Tel Aviv University.
  122. Yehuda Amital, “The Wars of Israel According to Maimonides,” (460) in: Aviezer Ravitzky, “Prohibited War in Jewish Tradition” in The Ethics of War and Peace: Religious and Secular Perspectives, ed. Terry Nardin (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1996).
  123. See: Joseph Isaac Lifshitz, “War and aesthetics in Jewish law,” in: War and Peace in Jewish Tradition, editors Yigal Levin and Amnon Shapira (Jerusalem: Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, 2006).
  124. On the meaning of power for Jews over the course of history see: Ruth Wisse, Jews and Power, (New York: Schocken, 2007).
  125. There is an ongoing debate between Walzer and Ravitzky about war in Jewish tradition.
  126. See: Moshe Halinger, “War and Peace in the Jewish Tradition: between Idealism and Realism,” in War and Peace, ed. Shlomo Aviner, (Jerusalem: Shazar Center, 2010), pp. 73-98.
  127. See: James Turner Johnson, Just War Tradition and the Restraint of War: A Moral and Historical Inquiry, (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1981). Many have noted the process by which Christianity shifted from the pacifism implied in scripture to a more bellicose “holy war” approach (under the influence of Augustinian theology) once it rose to power. Jewish history dictated an opposite trajectory, from a more belligerent Biblical tradition to a pacifist rabbinical approach. See: L.B. Walters, Five Classical Just-War Theories (Hartford, CT, 1971).
  128. Ravitzky, “Prohibited War in Jewish Tradition.”
  129. “The State of Israel will […] be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel […]”
  130. A non-exhaustive discussion of the topic appears in an article by Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, “Questions Relating to Ethics and War,” .
  131. Yehudah Mirsky, “The Political Morality of Pacifism and Nonviolence: One Jewish View,” in: War and its Discontents, (Georgetown University Press, 1996). p. 48.
  132. Quotes from Shmuel Rosner’s notes.
  133. During the discussion itself the participants were not asked explicitly whether they agree with this conclusion. The level of agreement noted here is based on the discussion moderators’ impressions.
  134. AJU seminar.
  135. Dallas seminar, April 17, notes by Shmuel Rosner.
  136. South Africa seminar.
  137. Sao Paulo seminar, notes by Alberto Milkewitz.
  138. Masa Career group seminar.
  139. The survey question presented four options; the selection breakdown is as follows: “Jewish values demand a higher level of moral conduct than that demanded by international law” (40%), “Jewish values offer a different interpretation of morality in war from that offered by international law (33%), “Jewish values demand a lower level of moral conduct than that demanded by international law (0.5%), “There is no consensus as to what “Jewish values” are when we think about military activity” (26.5%)
  140. Interestingly, South African, Colombian and European respondents favored “International law” as the guiding framework for Israeli military policy to a significantly higher degree (52%, 56% and 58% respectively), though these findings could, of course, be coincidental.
  141. In a survey conducted in late August 2014, only 32% expressed satisfaction with Operation Protective Edge, while a slightly lower percentage, 27%, expressed dissatisfaction. See: .
  142. In the same survey, 48% of the Jewish Israeli public felt that the degree of force exerted by the IDF during Operation Protective Edge was appropriate, while a slightly lower percentage felt that even greater force could have been justified. See: .
  143. Recent years have witnessed a peak in the level of confidence accorded the IDF. See: The Israel Democracy Index 2014, Tamar Hermann, Ella Heller, Chanan Cohen, Gilad Be’ery, Yuval Lebel.
  144. Israel often points out the one-sided nature of UN inquiries along the lines of the 2015 Schabas committee. Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs declared that the Schabas committee had been “instructed to investigate only the events occurring after the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers by Hamas terrorists. Further evidence of bias can be seen in the appointment of Prof. William Schabas – who is known for his anti-Israel views – to head the committee.” See: .
  145. During the Goldstone inquiry, over 90% of Israeli respondents believed that the “fact-finding mission” was biased against the IDF. See: . Similar views have been expressed regarding the new UN inquiry.
  146. In a September 2014 survey, 63% of Jewish respondents felt that the sentence “The world is against us” correctly reflects “world opinion” of Israel, and that, accordingly, most criticism of Israel is biased. See: . In earlier surveys, nearly half of the respondents states that they see no connection between Israel’s behavior and international criticism. See:
  147. In the peace index survey of May 2015, 71% of Jewish respondents agreed that “The countries of the world make demands for moral behavior on Israel that they do not make on other countries that are in situations of conflict.” see:
  148. The fact that the IDF is a “people’s army,” i.e., that there is universal conscription and that the soldiers who serve are the sons and daughters of Israeli citizens, is meaningful for this study in two ways: On one hand, citizens know first-hand how the IDF behaves, and it is very difficult for an IDF unit to successfully cover up conduct that is inconsistent with Israeli values. On the other hand, the situation gives rise to a tendency among Israelis to insist that the army not endanger its soldiers when outside parties call for less aggressive action. There have been cases where parents bitterly censured the military leadership for “sacrificing” their sons’ lives out of undue consideration for world opinion and legal repercussions.
  149. Seminar at the Los Angeles Federation, April 14; Los Angeles, AJU seminar. Notes by Shmuel Rosner.
  150. See for example the statement of former Defense Minister Ehud Barak following the Gaza operation of 2009: “I have no doubt that each individual case will be examined; but in my heart, I also have no doubt that the IDF is the most ethical army in the world.”
  151. IDF Code of Ethics – Ruach Tzahal:
  152. Ronen Avihu, “Purity of Arms – Transformations of the Concept and Its Development,” Monthly Review, April 1991 [Hebrew].
  153. See for example Anita Shapira’s description of the discussion in 1938: Anita Shapira, “Between Terror and Self-Restraint – The Yishuv Conference of July 1938,” from Zionism, volume 6, edited by Gedalia Yogev (Tel Aviv: Tel Aviv University, 1981).
  154. Benjamin Ish-Shalom, “Purity of Arms and Purity of Ethical Judgment,” see:
  155. An example of such adjustment in the recent period can be seen in the article by Asa Kasher and Amos Yadlin: “Military Ethics of Fighting Terror: An Israeli Perspective,” Journal of Military Ethics, 2005.
  156. This mechanism is under criticism in Israel by those who argue that it is not fitting to expose the army to legal scrutiny during war. Former Minister of Justice Daniel Friedman criticized the Supreme Court for “…forcing IDF officers to appear in court in the midst of war in order to explain their actions and enumerate the measures they take to defend the civilian population among whom the terrorists operate.” See: Daniel Friedman, “The Wallet and the Sword: The Trials of the Israeli Legal Revolution,” (Tel Aviv: Miskal, 2013).
  157. For example the Amnesty report “Families under the Wreckage: Israeli Attacks on Populated Homes” details eight cases in which ostensibly civilian homes were attacked by the IDF during Operation Protective Edge, causing the death of at least 104 citizens including 62 children.
  158. See: Will Saletan, “Civilian Deaths in Gaza. Is Israel killing indiscriminately? A closer look at the evidence and context,” Slate Magazine, July 2014.
  159. Seminar in Ocean County, New Jersey, March 24; Los Angeles (AJU) April 14. Notes by Shmuel Rosner.
  160. The referral to Jenin came in response to one of the test cases presented to seminar participants, of the battle in Jenin in 2002.
  161. Complete data on the composition of participants in the Dialogue appear in the appendices.
  162. See data in the section: Is Israel Willing to Take Diaspora-Jewish Opinions into Account?
  163. “We found that political leanings that connect with possible discomfort on account of Israeli government policy are not the reason for the distancing of young Jews from Israel.” Steven Cohen and Ari Kelman, “Thinking about Distancing from Israel,” AJC, 2010.
  164. See the section “Integrated ‘Net’ Assessment” (indicators) in JPPI’s annual assessment.
  165. Los Angeles, AJU seminar; Los Angeles, seminar at Hillel at UCLA, April 15. Notes by Shmuel Rosner.
  166. See: Discovering Israel at War: The Impact of Taglit-Birthright Israel in Summer 2014, Michelle Shain. Leonard Saxe, Shahar Hecht, Graham Wright, Theodore Sasson.
  167. U.S. Jewish Young Adults React to the Gaza Conflict: A Survey of Birthright Israel Applicants, Michelle Shain, Shahar Hecht Leonard Saxe, Brandeis University.
  168. Discovering Israel At War, page 25.
  169. Cleveland seminar, notes by Shelly Fishbach.
  170. Cleveland seminar, notes by Carol Wolf.
  171. A student in the UCLA group, notes by of Shmuel Rosner.
  172. A student in Stamford, notes by Shmuel Rosner.
  173. A student in the Ocean County seminar, notes by Shmuel Rosner.
  174. Seminar in Paris.
  175. See: Jeffrey Goldberg, “French Prime Minister: If Jews flee the Republic will be a failure,” The Atlantic, January 10, 2015.
  176. “Jimmy Carter says Israeli-Palestinian conflict ‘one of the origins’ of Islamist violence,” Jerusalem Post, January 15, 2015.
  177. Masa Career group, European participants, notes by Inbal Hakman.
  178. All of the examples cited in the following paragraphs are taken from the notes made by Shmuel Rosner at seminars he led in the USA and Canada.
  179. See data in: “What happens when Jews intermarry?” Pew,
  180. See: Sergio DellaPergola, “Jewish demographic policies, population trends and options in Israel and in the Diaspora.” JPPI, 2011 (
  181. See: Nathan Guttman, “Does intermarriage drive young Jews away from Israel?” Forward, May 2014.
  182. According to this research, during the operation in Gaza young Jews in the USA identified with Israel and increased their support for Israel. A significant majority of young Taglit-Birthright participants (79%) felt that Israel’s actions during the war were “completely justified” or “generally justified.” According to the study, “Registrants [for Taglit-Birthright] from the entire political spectrum – including those from the extreme left – demonstrated a significant rise in their affiliation with Israel in the wake of the conflict in Gaza.”
  183. For further details on the research and the groups included, including a detailed discussion on the question of participation by young people, where they came from and how their special discussion groups were conducted, see Appendix A at the end of this chapter.
  184. Cleveland seminar, notes by Carol Wolf, Howard Wolf, and Naomi Fein.
  185. For an analysis of the significant gaps between Jewish young people in Israel and the USA, see “Using difference to make a difference,” Dov Maimon, Shmuel Rosner. JPPI, 2012.
  186. See: Prof. Sylvia Barack Fishman, “De-legitimization of Israel and Israel attachments among American Jewish young Adults: The college campus and other contributing factors. JPPI, March 2011. “Many young American Jews have very high standards for moral national behavior. They expect the countries they feel attached to – like the United States and Israel – to live up to these moral standards. Thus, their critical attitudes toward Israel are often matched by critical attitudes toward the United States. Their criticism of Israel reflects not so much a lack of interest in Israel as a redefinition of their relationship and involvement with Israel. Young American Jewish leaders and cultural figures ubiquitously declare themselves to be dedicated to global and local social justice in vigorous efforts that transcend ethnic, geographic and socioeconomic boundaries. For many, the most worthwhile Jewish characteristic is the pursuit of social justice.”
  187. Masa seminar, notes by Chaya Ekstein.
  188. Hillel at UCLA seminar, notes by Shmuel Rosner.
  189. “Bina” young adults seminar, January 29, 2015, notes by Chaya Ekstein.
  190. Masa seminar, notes by Inbal Hakman.
  191. We included an extensive discussion of the survey results to this question in the chapter, Political Attitudes and the Strength of the Israel-Diaspora Relationship.
  192. Anecdotally, it is interesting to note that Israel receives especially poor “scores” on several of the questions that are mentioned here from the Dialogue participants in Brazil – whose attitudes were more similar to those of the “young people” than those of the “adults.” On the question of efforts to bring about a solution in Gaza, 28% of respondents in Brazil “strongly agree” with the claim that Israel is not doing enough, while 39% agreed “somewhat” with the statement. Responses from the respondents in Brazil were significantly different regarding the question of whether Israel shows more restraint than other armies. Compared with 63% who strongly agree with this statement among respondents from the other seminars, in Brazil only 16% supported this claim strongly, with another 28% agreeing somewhat. Almost 39% of the respondents from Brazil answered that they disagree very much with the statement. Due to the size of the group and the lack of sufficient data we are unable to analyze the reasons for these gaps – are there perceptual differences among the “community” in Brazil, or is it a random event due to the composition of the groups who came to the Dialogue encounters.
  193. Masa seminar, notes by Inbal Hakman.
  194. Interestingly, the young people’s assessment of the response of “other Jews” in the community was more positive than that of the older adults. More of them felt that other Jews in the community were “proud” of Israel. In other words: it is possible that alongside the under-assessment of the older people with regard to the position of the young people – the prevalent assumption, not backed by research, that young people are moving away from Israel – there is also an over-assessment by the younger people of the Israel support of their older counterparts – the younger people tend to attribute to the older people more sympathy for Israel than exists in reality.
  195. Comparison is possible mainly with regard to American Jewry, since the number of participants from the US is relatively significant and the information for comparison is accessible.
  196. The most prominent example of these characteristics appeared quite clearly in the Pew Report of American Jewry, where an effective distinction was made between Jews by their religion, and Jews not by their religion. See: Shlomo Fischer, “Who are the ‘Jews by Religion’ in the Pew Report?” Times of Israel, December 13, 2013.
  197. The average number of visits to Israel by a participant in a Jewish People Policy Institute seminar is three. By way of comparison, the Pew study on Jews in America found that around 43% of respondents had been to Israel, including 23% who visited Israel more than one time (Chapter 5 of the 2013 Pew report on American Jewry).
  198. The Pew Report states: “There is a greater chance that older Jews will perceive their relationship with Israel as an integral part of the meaning of being a Jew in their eyes than younger Jews. More than half of the Jews aged 65 and older state that their relationship to Israel is essential to their Jewish identity (53%), as does 47% of Jews between ages 50-64. In contrast, 38% of Jews in their thirties and forties, and 32% of all Jewish adults under age 30, state that their relationship to Israel is a major factor in the meaning of being a Jew in their eyes.”
  199. In principle, Masa Israel participants took part in the Institute’s seminar shortly after their arrival in Israel, in an attempt to minimize the influence that participation in the Masa program might have on their responses. Naturally, there is a built-in bias in the group of Masa participants: These are young people who have chosen to spend time in Israel.
  200. As we explained in the Institute’s report on the 2014 Dialogue, “We have already experienced these problems in producing previous reports – for example, the report on conversion – when we attempted to bring ultra-Orthodox representatives to participate in general communitywide discussions.” We also wrote last year that “the percentage of ultra-Orthodox Jews in the world is relatively small, so that even if we know that they have very different outlooks from those of most Jews on numerous subjects, the absence of ultra-Orthodox representatives from the discussion, while unfortunate, apparently does not lead to a misunderstanding of the general outlook within the Jewish world.”
  201. See: Sergio DellaPergola, “Jewish demographic policies, population trends and options in Israel and in the Diaspora,” JPPI, 2011.
  202. Pew, May 2015:
  203. See:,%20concerned%20and%20concilliatory:%20The%20attitudes%20of%20Jews%20in%20Britain%20towards%20Israel.pdf
  204. Calculated on the basis of data from David Graham from the Office of National Statistics of Great Britain, 2011. Percentages are adjusted to the population over 18. For further details see:
  205. It is important to note that while the question from both surveys is identical, the context and timing (Pew, 2013; JPPI, 2015) are different.