The progressive Jewish lobbying group J Street has published the results of a new nationwide poll it conducted of Jewish Americans between February 28 and March 8.
The poll had some encouraging results. J Street’s own press release about it highlighted the following findings:
- * American Jews remain remarkably supportive of assertive American efforts to achieve Middle East peace. The poll finds an extraordinarily strong base of 69 percent of American Jews firmly supporting active American engagement in bringing about Middle East peace, even if it means publicly disagreeing with or exerting pressure on both Arabs and Israelis, compared to 66 percent eight months ago;
* 69 percent also support the U.S. working with a unified Hamas-Fatah Palestinian Authority government to achieve a peace agreement with Israel, even when informed that the U.S. does not recognize Hamas due to its status as a terrorist organization and its refusal to recognize Israel. Interestingly, a March poll conducted by the Truman Institute at Hebrew University reported that 69 percent of Israelis also think Israel should negotiate with a joint Hamas-Fatah government;
* By 76-24 percent, American Jews support a two-state, final status deal between Israel and the Palestinians along the lines of the agreement nearly reached eight years ago during the Camp David and Taba talks;
* On Avigdor Lieberman: When told about Lieberman’s campaign platform requiring Arab citizens of Israel to sign loyalty oaths, as well as his threats against Arab Members of Knesset, American Jews opposed these positions by a 69 to 31 margin. One in three believe their own connection to Israel will be diminished if Lieberman assumes a senior position in the Israeli cabinet.
* On Gaza: While Jews rallied behind Israel and approved of Israel’s military action by a 3 to 1 margin, 59 percent still felt that the military action had no impact on Israel’s security (41 percent) or made Israel less secure (18 percent), while only 41 percent felt it made Israel more secure.
To me, the second of these findings is the most significant. It means that if Obama and his envoy sen. Mitchell move quickly and surefootedly toward including Hamas in the search for calming, de-escalation, and a speedy final resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict, he can expect to rally significant support for this approach from within the US Jewish community.
Of course, an inclusive policy such as this could also be expected to arouse the ire of most of the old hard-line organizations that like to portray themselves as representatives of the “mainstream” US Jewish community. But guess what. The “main” stream has been trickling out of its old tired stream-bed for some time now and carving out its own much more principled and humane way of looking at Middle east peace issues.
Also highly relevant in this context: The notably positive tone of Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal’s recent statements about Pres. Obama— as reported here.
I have the full text of that interview bookmarked someplace. But it is also significant that it’s being featured in that way on the pro-Hamas PIC website today.
In fact Meshaal’s reactions to Obama are much warmer than those of Iranian Supreme Guide Khamene’i.
(Some people believe– and argue– that Meshaal, being based in Damascus, is more hardline than the Hamas leaders on the ground inside Gaza or the West Bank. This is absolutely not true. In some respects he is more ready to be politically flexible than they are. Plus, he is the overall leader and inside the organization his word is the gold standard.)