American and Israeli flags during routine joint military exercises in 2009. (Photo/Flickr-Israel Defense Forces CC BY-NC 2.0)
American and Israeli flags during routine joint military exercises in 2009. (Photo/Flickr-Israel Defense Forces CC BY-NC 2.0)

Poll: Israeli and American Jews know little about each other

American and Israeli Jews don’t know much about one another, according to a study released Monday.

Still, both groups expressed an affinity for the other in the poll by the American Jewish Committee.

Among American Jews, a total of 40% said their knowledge of Israelis was either nonexistent or weak, and another 21% ranked their knowledge of Israelis as medium, while 37% said they received a “strong” education about Israel.

Among Israeli Jews, a total of 69% said they did not receive any education about Diaspora Jews or it was “not comprehensive,” while 20% said it was “so-so” and 11% said it was comprehensive.

The survey comes as Israel sees its first new prime minister in 12 years after Benjamin Netanyahu, the head of the Likud party, was ousted by the right-wing Naftali Bennett and the centrist Yair Lapid, who came together in an unusual coalition.

Officials of the new government led by Bennett say that Netanyahu damaged relations with the Jewish Diaspora through his close alliances with right-wing leaders overseas and his policies catering to the haredi Orthodox. They have vowed to repair ties, in part by educating Israelis about Diaspora Jews.

Among American Jews, 60% said being connected to Israel is important to their Jewish identity. Among the Israelis, 75% see a thriving Diaspora as vital to the future of the Jewish people.

Those Israelis who had learned more about Diaspora Jews in formal settings showed a greater interest in learning more about Diaspora Jews than those who had learned less.

The survey of Americans was conducted March 25-May 9 and the one in Israel in May. Both had 1,000 respondents. The margin of error is 3 percentage points.

Shira Hanau
Shira Hanau

Shira Hanau is a reporter at JTA. She was previously a staff writer at the New York Jewish Week and has written for the Forward, Columbia Journalism Review and the Harvard Divinity Bulletin.

JTA

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