Committed, Concerned and Conciliatory: The Attitudes of Jews in Britain Towards Israel

Jews in Britain strongly identify with and support Israel. They are ready to see Israel swap territory for peace and to talk with Hamas if it will advance the cause of peace. At the same time, they are concerned about Israel’s security, support the separation barrier/security fence and viewed the 2008/09 operation in Gaza as “a legitimate act of self-defence.”

These are the central findings of the most definitive study ever conducted of the attitudes of Jews in Britain towards Israel. The study is published today by the community’s leading research institute, the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR). Based on over 4,000 individual responses, with fieldwork conducted by Ipsos MORI and with the support of several leading experts in Jewish demography and sociology, the findings show that:

  • More than nine out of ten Jews have visited Israel, and a similar number consider it their ‘ancestral homeland’.
  • Four-fifths of respondents say Israel plays a central or important role in their Jewish identities, and one in five says they are very or fairly likely to live there in the future.

Respondents are clearly sympathetic to Israel’s need to defend itself. Nearly three-quarters agree that “The security fence is vital for Israel’s security” and a similar number agree that Operation Cast Lead (the Israeli military action in Gaza in winter 2008/09) was “a legitimate act of self-defence.” Nearly nine out of ten respondents believe that Iran represents a threat to Israel’s very existence.

Significantly, Jews in Britain clearly desire peace, and are eager to see the Israeli government take steps to achieve it.

Perhaps most significantly for a community that has long debated the acceptability of Jewish criticism of Israel in public, a slight majority (53% to 45%) believes that Jews living in Britain have the right to judge Israel, and nearly three-quarters believe that Jews should be free to speak their mind about Israel in the British media in at least some, if not all circumstances.

about: Founded in 1996 to succeed the Institute of Jewish Affairs, JPR (Institute for Jewish Policy Research) is the only independent research institute in Britain that specializes in the state of the contemporary Jewish community. It exists to advance the prospects of Jewish communities in Britain and across Europe by conducting research and developing policy ideas in partnership with those best placed to influence Jewish life.