Poll: American Jews split over Iran nuclear deal

Friday 23/10/2015
An attendee listens to US Secretary of State John Kerry deliver a speech on the Iran agreement in Philadelphia, on September 2nd.

London - “A community conflict­ed about the Iran nu­clear deal, concerned about US-Israel rela­tions, and worried about rising anti-Semitism.” That is how the American Jewish Commit­tee (AJC) summed up the state of opinion among American Jews in 2015, based on a recent survey.
The AJC 2015 Survey of American Jewish Opinion gave a keen insight into the issues that are most affect­ing the American Jewish communi­ty at a time when the Iran nuclear deal has been formally adopted and violence is escalating in Jeru­salem.
“US Jews offer conflicting, and seemingly contradictory, views on the agreement reached between the P5+1 and Iran on July 14. [But] a clear majority of American Jews lack confidence in the deal,” an AJC release that accompanied the sur­vey said.
According to the survey, 16.4% of respondents said they “strongly approved” of the Iran deal and 34.2% “somewhat approved” while 19.8% “somewhat disapproved” and 27.4% “strongly disapproved” indicating the emergence of two distinct camps.
“With 51% of total respondents approve of the [Iran] deal and 47% disapprove, there is a significant split within the community on the issue: those who consider being Jewish very important, those who view caring about Israel as a key part of their Jewish identity, and those belonging to the traditional denominations of Judaism are far more likely to oppose the deal than others. It may, in fact, be appropri­ate, in light of the data, to speak of two diverging Jewish sub-commu­nities,” the AJC statement said.
According to the AJC, 67% of Orthodox and Conservative Jews asked said they disapprove of the agreement — 45% “strongly”. While 54% of “Reform and Recon­struction Jews” said they approve of the deal — 19% “strongly”. As for those who identified as “just Jew­ish”, 69% of respondents stated ap­proval of the deal — 24% strongly.
“Attitudes towards the deal also vary by age. Among respondents 18- to 29-years old, 58% approve and 38% disapprove of the deal. For the 30- to 44-year-old cohort, 53% approve and 44% disapprove of the agreement. For those 45- to 50-years old, 48% approve and 49% disapprove. And among the 60-and-over group, 48% approve and 51% disapprove,” the study in­dicated.
That split could be seen in the ap­proval/disapproval of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s handling of US-Israel relations, with 52% of respondents saying that relations between Tel Aviv and Washington are getting worse. An­other 42% said that diplomatic re­lations had remained the same and 4.5% said they had improved.
The American Jewish communi­ty was similarly split over the pros­pects for peace between Palestine and Israel, albeit less so.
In what was almost an even split as 51.9% of those polled said they favoured the establishment of a Palestinian state, with 46.1% op­posing it. In a previous AJC survey taken in 2013, 50% favoured and 47% opposed the establishment of a Palestinian state.
About one-third — 35.7% — of those asked said they believed that the prospects for Israeli-Palestini­an peace had decreased with 58.5% saying that the prospects for peace had stayed the same, which one year ago was negligible. Just 4.1% of respondents said that peace was more likely.
A total of 1,030 Jews from across the United States took part in the poll during August, before the lat­est flare-up between Palestinians and Israelis in Jerusalem. The lat­est violence, which has seen wave of attacks and revenge attacks be­tween ordinary Palestinians and Israelis, indicates that peace is no closer than before.
The AJC study looked at a num­ber of other issues, not least Ameri­can Jewish concern over the rise of anti-Semitism in the United States, which 85% of respondents iden­tified as a “problem” — 21% as “a very serious problem”.
As for anti-Semitism in the Arab world, 95% said this was a problem — 76% as “a very serious problem”.
The poll was conducted online August 7th through the 22nd with people invited to participate after meeting previous qualification cri­teria. The data carry a margin of er­ror of 4.7 percentage points.