New survey conducted by a British pro-peace group ‘Yachad’ finds 24% of British Jews willing to ‘support sanctions against Israel’ if they thought it would push Israel’s gov’t towards making peace with the Palestinians.
A new report, released Thursday by a “pro-Israel, pro-peace” organization in the UK, has revealed British Jews’ nuanced approach to Israel, with a large majority considering themselves pro-Israel at the same time as being critical of the government’s actions – particularly with regard to settlements.
The report was funded by the British Jewish pro-peace outfit Yachad and conducted by the City of London.
The responses showed that 90 percent of the UK’s Jews support Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, with 93 percent saying that the country plays a “central,” “important,” or “some” role in their identity.
At the same time, however, 75 percent believe that Israel’s settlement expansion is a “major” obstacle to peace, with 68 percent agreeing with the statement, “I feel a sense of despair every time Israel approves an expansion of the settlements.”
Moreover, nearly a quarter – 24 percent – of respondents said that they would support “some sanctions against Israel” if they thought they would “encourage the Israeli government to engage in the peace process.”
Furthermore, 73 percent believe that Israel’s current approach to peace has harmed its standing in the world and that the country “will be seen as an apartheid state if it tries to retain control over borders that contain more Arabs than Jews.”
The findings also revealed that concern over the actions of the Israeli government is more pronounced among the younger generation: Only 37 percent of British Jews under 30 felt there was “no justification for requiring Israel to label products produced in the West Bank,” compared to 68 percent of those over 70.
The survey also examined respondents’ perceptions of how widely-held their own political views were, with considerable disparity between the Right and the Left, categorized in the report as “hawks” and “doves” respectively.
Hawks overestimated the prevalence of their views, believing for example that 49 percent of British Jews would share their opinion that the Palestinians had no claim to own land, while the actual figure was only 14 percent. Doves, on the other hand, underestimated the prevalence of their own views by 10 percent.
“The community is shifting,” Hannah Weisfeld, Yachad’s director, said in a press release. “Feelings of despair, conflict between loyalty to Israel and concern over policies of the government are mainstream not marginal positions.
“The majority agree that the only way out of continued rounds of violence is through a political agreement with the Palestinian people. This is ever more relevant against the background of the tragic events in the region during the past month,” Weisfeld added.
“Members of the Jewish community should feel confident to stand up and say loudly that the bulk of the community believes that only by creating a Palestinian state, and not by maintaining the status-quo, will Israel’s citizens get the security they need and deserve.”
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