The distancing of American Jewish identity from Israel


I don’t agree with Shmuel Rosner at the Jerusalem Post very often. But when it comes to statistical reportage about American Jewish attitudes towards Israel, there is little to disagree about. From an excerpt to his forthcoming book, he mentions some statistics that I also detailed on my Tuesday packed-house panel “Engaging Young Jews with Israel” at TribeFest:

In a working paper entitled “Identity, Assimilation, Continuity” prepared for the participants of the conference of the Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI) in Jerusalem, professors Sergio Della Pergola and Chaim Waxman placed less emphasis on the general support American Jews express for Israel (82%), and more on the fact that only 28% of American Jews define themselves as “Zionists.” The rate of “Zionism” among American Jews drops the younger they get, just like many other aspects related to one’s connection with Israel. For older people, the percentages hover around 40%; for those under 35, it is just over 20%. In other words, for the large majority, including those who have a connection with and support Israel, this constitutes long-distance support for a state where Jews live, but not necessarily an acknowledgment that this state is the state for all the Jews. Zionist Israel may have a hard time relinquishing its perceived front seat, but Jewish America won’t settle for playing second fiddle in the Jewish world either.

More reportage from Las Vegas forthcoming.

One thought on “The distancing of American Jewish identity from Israel

  1. I’d like to see the numbers by demographic cohort, over time. The definition of “zionist” has changed depending on context and time. In 1974, it was synonymous with pro Israel. In 1934, it was supporting a Jewish state. At some points and some places, it meant personally making aliyah. Now it means buying in to an increasingly illiberal narrative.

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