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A MATTER OF FAITH

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Not surprisingly, religion plays an important role in forming public opinion on Israel. American Jews are most likely to be the strongest supporters of Israel, but as a minority constituting approximately 2 percent to 3 percent of the American population, their viewpoints are not tracked in most nationwide polls. As a result, such polls show the greatest supporters of Israel to be white evangelical Protestants, who back that country to a much greater extent than any other religious group tracked in these surveys. For example, according to a January 2002 Pew poll, 34 percent of white evangelicals say the U.S. should show stronger support for Israel, compared with 13 percent of mainline Protestants, 16 percent of white Catholics and 20 percent of people holding secular beliefs.

An October 28 to 29 poll of American Jews revealed increased support for Israel in the wake of Sept. 11. Because the poll was taken so soon after the attacks, it may have been influenced more by the threat of terror on U.S. soil than by the situation in Israel itself, which grew increasingly worse in the months that followed. The poll, conducted by Market Facts Inc. for The Forward, showed 82 percent of 606 Jewish Americans surveyed saying they are very or somewhat attached to Israel, up from 72 percent in a poll taken back in January 2001. The number of people “not attached� fell to 18 percent from 27 percent. Forty-four percent said they felt more in touch with their Jewish identity following the attacks.

STRONG SUPPORT

Over the course of 2001, American Jews grew more hawkish on Israel.

1/01 10/01
Identify with the hawkish wing of the Israeli political spectrum 39% 49%
Favor a less conciliatory Israeli stance toward the Palestinians 34% 21%
Favor a more conciliatory Israeli stance toward the Palestinians 25% 25%
Favor an equally conciliatory Israeli stance toward Palestinians 40% 51%
Source: The Forward/Market Facts Inc., October 2001
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