44% of US Jews say embassy shouldn't be moved to Jerusalem

Poll: 77% of American Jews have unfavorable view of Trump

AJC’s 2017 survey of US Jewish opinion finds the president and his policies are deeply unpopular, fears about anti-Semitism have risen dramatically

President Donald Trump speaks during a ceremony to mark the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, at the Pentagon, September 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Donald Trump speaks during a ceremony to mark the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, at the Pentagon, September 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON — The vast majority of American Jews disapprove of the job US President Donald Trump is doing, according to a new poll released on Wednesday.

The American Jewish Committee’s annual survey of American Jewish opinion found that 77 percent of respondents have an “unfavorable” view of the president, while 21%  have a “favorable” view of the way he is governing. One percent said they were “not sure.”

Those figures line up closely with voting outcomes within the US Jewish community during the 2016 election. The AJC’s data showed that 64% of American Jews voted for Hillary Clinton and 18% voted for Trump.

Notable, however, was the disparity between respondents’ opinions depending on the denomination of Jewry with which they identified: 71% of Orthodox, 25% of Conservative, 11% of Reform, 8% of Reconstructionist, and 17% of those who identify as “just Jewish” view Trump’s presidency favorably.

On the other hand, 27% of Orthodox, 73% of Conservative, 88% of Reform, 92% of Reconstructionist, and 81% of those are just Jewish view his performance unfavorably.

Conducted by the research firm SSRS, the survey incorporates a national sample of 1,000 Jewish Americans over the age of 18, who participated in telephone interviews from August 10 to August 28. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.71%.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and AJC Executive Director David Harris (right) during a meeting Monday in Israel (photo credit: Olivier Fitoussi/AJC)
AJC Executive Director David Harris (Olivier Fitoussi/AJC)

“Particularly striking in our new survey is the fact that attitudes toward the president, both pro and con, have remained largely static since Election Day, and within the Jewish community the discrepancy between the Orthodox and other Jewish denominations on most questions is pronounced,” said AJC CEO David Harris.

According to the poll, 57% of American Jews in 2017 identify as Democrat, and 15% as Republican. Twenty percent said they were independents and 8% identified as “other.”

Ideologically, a plurality of respondents said they were firmly liberal (39%), 22% said they were moderates and 15% said they were conservative. Fifteen percent said they “lean liberal” and 7% said they “lean conservative.”

When pressed on specifics, the majority of participants took issue with Trump’s handling of race relations, immigration, national security and terrorism.

The president recently infuriated most of the American Jewish community with his response to white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, and in rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. He also galvanized most Jewish organizations to speak out this winter when he first instituted his travel ban.

On race relations, 78% of American Jews disapprove of the job he’s doing, whereas 21% approve; on immigration, 76% disapprove while just 23% approve.

Meanwhile, 73% disapprove of the way he is handling national security, and 69% disapprove of his stewardship in the fight against terrorism.

On Israel and the Middle East

Most American Jews in the AJC poll were less than thrilled with Trump’s approach to the Iranian challenge, particularly its regime’s quest to obtain a nuclear weapon — 68% said they disapproved of his performance in that area.

A plurality (29%) also said they believed the chances of Israeli-Palestinian peace — something Trump has called a “top priority” and in which he has invested major political capital — have decreased in the last year.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and US President Donald Trump, right, speak at Ben Gurion International Airport prior to the latter’s departure from Israel on May 23, 2017. (Koby Gideon/GPO)

Fifty-five percent said they favored the creation of a Palestinian state, which Trump has yet to officially endorse, breaking with his last three predecessors.

On the question of whether the US should move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, respondents were given nuanced options. Thirty-six percent said they favored the relocation, but only in conjunction with a peace process.

Only 16% of American Jews think the embassy should be moved immediately, whereas 44% — the plurality in this case — said it should not be moved at all.


Another noteworthy finding was the heightened fear in the US Jewish community regarding rising anti-Semitism.

In 2016, 73% considered it a problem and only 21% viewed it as “very serious,” but a year later, 84% say it is a problem, and 41% consider it “very serious.”

The results came after a year in which hundreds of Jewish community centers received numerous bomb threats and a white supremacist rally replete with Nazi sympathizers culminated in a deadly car ramming.

Many participants in the poll also saw anti-Semitism rising on college campuses — 69% consider it a problem and 29% think of it as “very serious.” 

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