Jews in the United States have traditionally taken the role of the State of Israels number one backer in Washington, but a new survey published Wednesday shows otherwise: Israel is just seventh on the list of American Jews' concerns on the eve of the US presidential elections, far below other matters such as medical insurance and environmental issues.
The survey was conducted by political strategist Jim Gerstein for the liberal organization J STREET, a pro-Israel, pro-peace movement. He was aiming to prove that the Jewish-American community supports the peace process and does not hold right-wing stances as been presented over the years by Jewish organizations and leaders.
The surveys data indicates that economic concerns are first on the list for US Jews, as 65% of them rated it first on their priority list. Next on the list is the issue of Iraq, which has been occupying the minds of the American public, Jews included. About 21% of the Jewish community members rated medical insurance third, and a similar percentage placed terror and national security at the top of their list.
The subject of energy took fifth place, with 15% ranking it at first place, followed by a 12% rating for environmental concerns. Surprisingly, only 8% of the Jews see Israel as the most important topic of the presidential elections agenda, a rating similar to matters such as illegal immigration (8%), security and health insurance for the elderly (7%), taxes, separation between religion and state (6%), and education.
It is encouraging to see that most American Jewish voters are not pursuing an Israel-first agenda during this election campaign. Such an agenda, and the publicity surrounding it, can only be bad for the Jewish people. Candidates should take note of this and recognize that American Jews, like other Americans, will vote on what is best for America.