According to the conventional wisdom, Jews in the U.S. are losing sympathy for the Jewish state because of its failure to make peace with the Palestinians, or because of its alleged rightward drift, or because of the building of new housing in the West Bank, or because of the policies of Benjamin Netanyahu (under whom settlement growth has in fact slowed). But a recent poll conducted by the “pro-Israel, pro-peace” lobby group J Street, which is itself deeply invested in this conventional wisdom, suggests otherwise. Elliott Abrams writes:
The survey asked, “Compared to five-to-ten years ago, do you feel more positive, more negative, or about the same toward Israel?” The result: 55 percent said “about the same,” 26 percent said “more positive,” and 19 percent said “more negative.” Respondents were asked “Does the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank make you feel positive about Israel, negative about Israel, or have no impact on how you feel about Israel?” The result: 48 percent said it had “no impact,” 32 percent said “a negative impact,” and 19 percent said expansion of settlements had a positive impact on [their attitudes].
Similar results emerged from questions about Israeli policies regarding non-Orthodox denominations of Judaism. Abrams continues:
Those numbers cannot have made J Street’s publicists very happy, nor can they cheer the propagandists who are constantly telling us that such Israeli actions (or more narrowly, Netanyahu’s policies) are simply ruining relations between the American Jewish community and Israel. But relations are not ruined and more people said they felt more positive about Israel now than said the opposite—with most saying their views had not changed. And the impact of the great brouhaha about treatment of non-Orthodox Judaism turns out to be exaggerated. . . .
[In short], the J Street survey suggests that there is no great crisis in relations between the American Jewish community and Israel.