June 16, 2024
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New Brandeis Birthright Study Shows Support for Israel in War With Hamas

New York– A study from Brandeis University’s Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies (CMJS) finds that while American young adults may hold Israel responsible for the recent conflict in Gaza, American Jewish young adults do not, and in fact, are overwhelmingly supportive of Israel’s military response.

Between August 6-11, 2014, nearly 2000 Taglit-Birthright Israel applicants were surveyed, including young adults who participated in Taglit-Birthright Israel’s 10-day educational program and others who did not. The survey drew questions from recent surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center and Gallup, and new queries developed by CMJS.

The widely discussed Pew Research Center poll conducted at the end of July 2014 found that more American young adults (ages 18-29) blamed Israel for the summer’s conflict in Gaza than blamed Hamas (29% vs. 21%). CMJS posed the same question to Taglit-Birthright Israel applicants and found that both participants and nonparticipants were overwhelmingly less likely to hold Israel primarily responsible for the violence. Only 6% of participants and 11% of nonparticipants believed Israel was primarily responsible for the conflict. By contrast, 60% of participants and 50% of nonparticipants believed Hamas was primarily to blame. The CMJS study found that young Jewish Americans were more likely to assign blame to both groups (27% of participants and 32% of nonparticipants) than was the broader young American sample in the Pew Center poll (15%).

Taglit-Birthright Israel applicants were also more likely than U.S. young adults, in general, to believe that Israel’s actions in the conflict were justified. A recent Gallup poll (conducted July 22-23, 20014) found that only 25% of young Americans believed that Israel’s actions were justified, while 51% believed the action unjustified. In contrast, 79% of Taglit-Birthright Israel participants and 67% of nonparticipants felt Israel’s actions were justified. Although the majority of all Taglit-Birthright Israel applicants felt Israel was justified in its actions, some applicants felt otherwise: 20% of participants and 32% of nonparticipants felt Israel’s actions were unjustified.

According to Professor Leonard Saxe, Director of the Cohen Center and one of the study’s authors, Taglit-Birthright Israel applicants represent the diversity of young adult American Jews. He noted that “more than half a million young Jews have applied to participate since the inception of the program 14 years ago. They include many who had little contact with the Jewish community prior to the program and a majority who consider themselves politically liberal.”

Along with the findings about the attitudes of young adult American Jews regarding Israel and the conflict with Hamas, the study also revealed that most follow the news about Israel closely. Although almost all get their news from American news sources, among participants, social media was a significant source of news and more than half reported getting their news directly from Israeli sources.

“The results of this survey demonstrate that Jewish young adults who participate in Taglit-Birthright Israel come away from the experience not only with a connection to Israel, but a strong interest and a commitment to being informed about its people and its challenges, said Taglit-Birthright Israel CEO Gidi Mark.

Visit www.BirthrightIsrael.com.

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