Jewish support for Obama strong despite Israel stance (WASHINGTON POST) By Lauren Markoe| WASHINGTON 04/04/12)
WASHINGTON POST Articles-Index-Top
WASHINGTON — Despite Democratic worries that President Obama could
lose Jewish support over his Middle East policies, a new poll
indicates that Israel is not the top political issue of American
Jews, with only 4 percent calling it the most important factor in
Like most Americans, Jews are primarily concerned about the economy,
the poll found, but they differ from the general public on a number
of political and social issues, including their relative willingness
to accept Muslims and same-sex marriage.
The findings emerged Tuesday (April 3) from a new survey released by
the Public Religion Research Institute, which aimed to identify the
religious issues and ideas that Jewish Americans consider most
important. The results, said PRRI CEO Robert P. Jones, show a strong
Jewish streak for social and economic justice.
“These values resonate with religious Jews as well as Jews who
identify as culturally or ethnically Jewish,” he said.
Eight in 10 respondents said pursuing justice and caring for the
widow and the orphan are important in shaping their politics —
ranking higher than any of the four other “values’” listed on the
Ranking lowest: “seeing every person as made in the image of God,”
with 55 percent calling it a very or somewhat important motivator of
their political beliefs.
More Jews (46 percent) named a “commitment to social equality” as the
factor most important to their Jewish identity, followed by 20
percent who said “support for Israel” and 17 percent who
said “religious observance.”
As for Jewish views on Muslims, 66 percent agree that American
Muslims are an important part of the U.S. religious fabric — markedly
higher than the 54 percent of all Americans who hold this view.
On the issue of same-sex marriage, 81 percent of Jews (compared to 51
percent of all Americans) believe it should be legal in all or most
cases. The Reform movement, the largest and most liberal strain of
American Judaism, allows same-sex marriage, along with parts of the
The poll also showed Jewish voters’ strong support for Obama. Twice
as many said they would vote for Obama over a GOP candidate. That
level of support is nearly unchanged from the same point during
Obama’s first presidential run.
Kenneth Wald, a political science professor who studies Jewish voting
patterns at the University of Florida, said he has heard the
political chatter that U.S. Jews are so upset with Obama’s treatment
of Israel that they will move away from their traditionally
Democratic leanings and vote for a GOP challenger — but the survey
doesn’t find evidence for that.
“About three out of four American Jews voted Democratic in 2008,”
Wald said. “Something relatively similar is likely to occur in 2012.”
Jews also expressed a strong preference for diplomacy over military
approaches in U.S. foreign policy, preferring diplomatic means by a
more than two-to-one margin. But there are significant partisan
differences on this issue, with 81 percent of Jewish Democrats
choosing diplomatic tactics, compared to 35 percent of Jewish
The survey of 1,004 American Jews, which was one of the few studies
of Jews conducted by a non-Jewish organization, has a margin of error
of plus or minus 5 percentage points. It was funded by a grant from
the Nathan Cummings Foundation.
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