JPPI's Jewish World Dialogue

Exploring the Jewish Spectrum in a Time of Fluid Identity


This year’s Dialogue Process marks the third year that JPPI has been building a structure for a systematic discourse on issues that are at the core of the collective interests of the Jewish people globally. Exploring the Jewish Spectrum in a Time of Fluid Identity, discussing together how the different streams approach Judaism, is a main component of our project on Pluralism and Democracy in Israel and the Diaspora. We are grateful to the William Davidson Foundation for supporting this endeavor and encouraging a deeper understanding among Jews globally.

The 2016 Jewish World Dialogue was co-headed for the first time by an Israeli JPPI Senior Fellow in tandem with an American one. Shmuel Rosner and John Ruskay, representing the two largest Jewish communities in the world, started a personal conversation before widening it to 49 different seminars worldwide. They didn’t neglect the smaller communities, which many times present the most difficult challenges.

JPPI’s effort to enhance pluralism in the Jewish world has, from its inception, enjoyed the encouragement of Israel’s leaders, such as former President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and JAFI’s Chairman Natan Sharansky as well as the participating communities and Jewish organizations abroad. President Reuven Rivlin, who is dedicated to bridging gaps in Israel and world Jewry, launched a tradition with JPPI to bring together representatives of all the streams to study together Jewish texts. The Dialogue is approaching the point when it should culminate in a deeper results-oriented conversation at the highest echelons of leadership on how we should fulfill our common destiny.

The Jewish people is undergoing a period of radical change in its internal dynamics: generational transitions; the promise of some normalization of Israel’s situation in the Middle East; a shift in Jewish Identification and sense of community. The external environment of the Jewish people is changing radically as well: globalization; geostrategic shifts; value transformations; scientific and technological innovations; new manifestations of anti-Semitism. All these create new realities and challenges that provide the Jewish people unprecedented opportunities for thriving but also pose serious risks of decline.
Enriching the dialogue in the Jewish world between different communities, streams, and political orientations may help us take advantage of opportunities and avert dangers and threats.

We are continuing in making an effort to internalize and implement the lessons learned from each year of JPPI’s Structured Dialogue Process.

I want to thank the Institute’s leadership, and especially Stuart Eizenstat, Dennis Ross, and Leonid Nevzlin, who head our Professional Guiding Council, for their continuing commitment to, and support of, our work. Special thanks, once again, to the William Davidson Foundation for its confidence and trust.

Avinoam Bar-Yosef

Exploring the Jewish Spectrum in a Time of Fluid Identity

For the second year in a row we have used the same question on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process in order to give a sense of the political proclivities of JPPI Dialogue participants. The question: “Do you think the current Israeli government is making a sincere effort to bring about a peace settlement with the Palestinians?” is used in several other surveys, and hence it gives us a way of showing how the answers of Dialogue participants change from year to year, but also allows comparison the composition of Dialogue participants to those of other surveys of Jewish groups.

Is the current Israeli government making a sincere effort to bring about a peace settelment?

First, take a look at this year’s Dialogue response:

The graph below compares the two Dialogue surveys with three other surveys: one of U.S. Jews by Pew (from 2013), one of U.S. Jews by The Jewish Journal 252  (from 2015), and one of Youth to Israel Adventure253 (from 2014). Of course, these are not really comparable in a scientific way. JPPI’s survey includes Dialogue participants from all over the world, Pew and JJ surveys are statistically representative of U.S. Jews, and Y2I alumni are a very specific group of people. In addition, the surveys were conducted in different years, and circumstances of the Israeli-Palestinian issue are not uniform from year to year. Then again, it is worth noting that the result (with the exception of Y2I) is not dramatically different in all of these surveys. A plurality of Jews seems to doubt whether Israel’s efforts to resolve the conflict are sincere. As you can see, the fact that the JPPI Dialogue comprises people who are highly connected to Israel, have visited the country many times, and also Israeli participants – does not make it question the sincerity of Israel’s efforts to achieve peace any less.

Is the Current Israeli Government Making a Sincere Effort to Bring About a Peace Settlement?