US Jews maintain strong support of Iran deal — J Street poll

Survey finds Jewish support for nuclear agreement remains consistently high, with 60% in favor of recent deal

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Participants in the talks on the Iran nuclear deal pose for a group photo at the UN building in Vienna, Austria, on July 14, 2015. (Carlos Barria, Pool Photo via AP)
Participants in the talks on the Iran nuclear deal pose for a group photo at the UN building in Vienna, Austria, on July 14, 2015. (Carlos Barria, Pool Photo via AP)

The majority of American Jews maintain strong support of the Iran nuclear agreement, a poll released Tuesday by the American lobbying group J Street indicates.

The poll, which was conducted among 1,000 adults who identify as Jewish, found that 60 percent of those questioned said they supported the agreement that aims to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions in exchange for the lifting of US and international sanctions.

The number closely reflected the results of J Street’s previous poll in June, conducted before the agreement was reached, which found that 59% of American Jewish adults supported the nuclear deal.

The latest results indicate that American Jewish support of the agreement exceeds that of the general US population. According to polls by ABC News and Washington Post days after the agreement was singed on July 14, 56 percent of Americans said they supported the deal.

Similarly, a poll published last week by the Los Angeles Jewish Journal showed American Jews are much likelier than non-Jews to back the Iran deal. The newspaper’s survey found that 49% of US Jews supported the agreement as compared to 28% of the general population.

According to J Street’s results, Jewish awareness of the Iran nuclear issue has notably risen since the signing of the agreement. Some 79% said they had heard either some or a great deal of information regarding the deal, up 13 percentage points from its June poll.

“These results make clear that American Jews overwhelmingly support this deal and see this diplomatic agreement as the best way to keep Iran from getting a nuclear weapon,” J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami said in a statement issued Tuesday. “The numbers just go to show—once again — that the pundits and those who speak most loudly on behalf of the Jewish community are flat out wrong in their presumption that Jewish Americans are hawkish on Iran or regarding US policy in the Middle East in general.”

When broken down across denominational lines, Orthodox Jews — approximately 10% of the US Jewish population and 10% of those polled — were the only group that did not support the nuclear agreement with Iran, with 33% supportive of the terms.

Despite broad Jewish support for the agreement, only 10% of those polled prioritized Iran among the top two issues on which they believe Congress and US President Barack Obama should focus. The other 90% listed the US economy, combating the Islamic State and health care as issues that should top the administration’s priorities.

Some 80% of respondents identifying as liberal/progressive Democrats support the deal, while 69% of moderate and conservative Jewish Democrats support it.

Overall, President Obama’s approval rating remains higher among American Jews than among Americans in general. Fifty-nine percent approve of the way he is handling his job as president, compared to 46% of the general population.

Amid the highly partisan environment of the Iran debate, the Democratic Party is seen favorably by a plurality of American Jews (49 favorable/33 unfavorable), while the Republican Party is heavily disliked (17 favorable/68 unfavorable).

Jim Gerstein, who conducted the poll for J Street, noted that the demographics of the poll, which was conducted last week, are closely aligned with the demographic breakdown of the American Jewish community described in the landmark 2013 Pew survey of American Jewry.

The poll carried a 3.1-point margin of error.

Rebecca Shimoni Stoil contributed to this report

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