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Donald Trump

Israelis and American Jews don’t see eye-to-eye on President Donald Trump, with opinion split on embassy move

Experts have been warning for years that the two communities are drifting in opposite directions politically, undermining the kinship between the two groups

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 June, 2018, 4:59pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 June, 2018, 4:59pm

An opinion poll published on Sunday shows deep divisions between Israelis and American Jews, particularly in relation to us President Donald Trump, highlighting the growing rift between the world’s two largest Jewish communities.

The survey of the American Jewish Committee showed 77 per cent of Israelis approved of the president’s handling of US-Israel relations, while only 34 per cent of American Jews did. Fifty-seven per cent of US Jews disapproved, while only 10 per cent of Israelis did.

Trump recently recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and relocated the American embassy there, upending decades of US foreign policy and an international consensus that the city’s fate should be decided through peace negotiations. The Palestinians, who claim east Jerusalem as their future capital, were outraged by the move and cut all contacts with the US in response.

Eighty-five per cent of Israelis supported the embassy move, while only 46 per cent of American Jews did.

The AJC surveyed 1,000 Israelis and Americans and had a margin of error of 3.1 and 3.9 per cent, respectively.

The survey was released ahead of the opening of the AJC Global Forum in Jerusalem, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will address later on Sunday.

Netanyahu has forged a close bond with Trump, and their hardline policies toward the Palestinians have strong support in Israel and among its Republican backers in the US But most American Jews are Democrats who are highly critical of Trump and Netanyahu. Experts have been warning for years that the two communities are drifting in opposite directions politically, undermining the kinship between the two groups, which make up the vast majority of Jews in the world.

The poll showed 59 per cent of Americans favouring the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel but only 44 per cent of Israelis supporting the idea.

The communities share similar views on the importance of good ties between the “extended family”. But they differ greatly on matters of religion and state, particularly on the ultra-Orthodox monopoly over religious affairs in Israel. The vast majority of American Jews identify as either Reform or Conservative, the more liberal streams of Judaism that have a very small foothold in Israel.

On one of the most contentious issues, regarding a mixed-gender prayer area next to Jerusalem’s Western Wall, 73 per cent of American Jews express support, compared to just 42 per cent of Israelis.