In new poll, 63% of Israeli Jews call Diaspora coreligionists ‘brethren’

The survey, conducted during protests over the government’s judicial overhaul, shows fraternity at a 6-year high

Cnaan Lidor is The Times of Israel's Jewish World reporter

Dutch Jews express solidarity with Israel at a rally in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, on May 16, 2021. (Canaan Lidor)
Dutch Jews express solidarity with Israel at a rally in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, on May 16, 2021. (Canaan Lidor)

More Israelis feel fraternity with Diaspora Jews now than they did five years ago, according to an annual survey on the subject.

In the representative poll among 1,002 Jewish Israeli citizens aged 17-70, conducted in January and published Tuesday by the Diaspora Affairs Ministry, 63% of respondents said that they considered Diaspora Jews to be their brethren, compared to only 56% in a similar survey from 2016, when the ministry began its annual polling on the matter.

The 2023 figure for the fraternity question is the highest of all six polls conducted by the ministry. In the new poll, which has a 3.2% margin of error, 69% of respondents said that they had a shared fate with Diaspora Jews, compared to only 61% in 2016.

The “2023 Survey to Monitor the Index of the Public’s Positions on Israel-Diaspora Ties” poll was conducted amid a polarizing debate on Israel’s judicial overhaul, which seeks to transfer some of the judiciary’s powers to the legislative branch. The Jewish Federations of North America, the umbrella organization representing 146 Jewish federations and 300 independent Jewish communities, are among the many Jewish-American groups that have voiced their opposition to the overhaul or parts of it.

The poll also addresses Israelis’ attitudes toward their own Jewish identity irrespective of Diaspora Jews.

Twenty-nine percent of this year’s respondents said they felt more Jewish than Israeli, the highest endorsement of the statement since 2016, when only 24% agreed. The share of respondents who feel more Israeli than Jewish is at its lowest point since 2016: 18% this year compared to 21% in the first poll in the series.

Assimilation by Diaspora Jews is cause for concern for 53% of respondents in 2023, compared to only 48% in 2016.

Diaspora Affairs Minister Amichai Chikli, whose office published the survey on its annual Diaspora Week to strengthen ties between Israel and non-Israeli Jews, said in a statement about the poll: “The Jewish People faces two combined challenges: The weakening of Jewish identity and an assault on the collective Jewish-Zionist one.”

The statement urged, “The State of Israel must rise to the occasion and strengthen the infrastructure of Jewish education worldwide and in Israel to ensure a new generation is connected to its people’s heritage and committed to its future.”

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