Jews’ Views Redux

images.jpgSome interesting responses to my last post on the AJC 2007 American Jewish Opinion survey. I was happy to read Eric Alterman’s response to my thoughts about his Nation article on his own blog, Altercation. (And I was especially thrilled that he described himself as a Reconstructionist at heart!)

He went on with this response to my thoughts about the apparent narrowing of American Jewish opinion on the issue of a Palestinian state:

I don’t blame the rabbi for finding these views “troubling.” I do too. But that’s because I find the reality troubling. While Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians are genuinely awful and should be challenged and changed, that does not mean the Palestinians are ready to assume responsibility for a state willing to live in peace with Israel. I don’t think they are even close. And therefore I think the nervousness among American Jews about support for an independent Palestinian state in the near future is entirely justified, even though it’s probably the only long-term solution that can give Israel the security it ultimately craves, and the justice and right to self-determination the Palestinians deserve.

I appreciated his clarification of this issue. Upon closer look at the survey question, I noted that it read: “In the current situation, do you favor or oppose the establishment of a Palestinian state? This is quite a different question, obviously, than “Do you theoretically favor or oppose the establishment of a Palestinian state?” We can only hope that current attempts at reviving the peace process will bring both sides to the point to which such a reality will be truly viable.

On this point, Mark Karlin’s thoughtful comment is well taken: the wording of survey questions mean much more than the casual survey-reader will usually admit. The term “the Arabs” is as imprecise and unhelpful as “the Jews” The Jewish community is always ready to remind the world not to paint us with the same broad ideological brush, and we should appreciate this point when it comes to the diversity of the Arab world as well.

Thanks to all who weighed in with responses!

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