A new poll touted by a leading anti-disengagement group found that the majority of Americans do not support Israel’s Gaza withdrawal plan. But the figures fly in the face of other polls, which have found that a majority of American Jews and Americans in general support the Gaza pullout.
The recent poll was commissioned by the Zionist Organization of America, which fiercely opposes concessions to the Palestinians. It found that 63% of Americans opposed “Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from a section of Gaza and Northern Samaria,” with 16% supporting the move. The poll’s question described the plan as “forcing 10,000 Israeli Jews from their homes and businesses” without a peace agreement. Taken June 26-27, the poll surveyed 1,000 Americans.
A leading supporter of the disengagement plan, the Anti-Defamation League, was reportedly expected this week to release its own poll, which produced the opposite results. According to a report in the Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot, the ADL poll, taken between June 19 and June 23, found that 71% of the general American population supports the disengagement, with 12% against it. The question in the ADL poll was worded as follows: “Israel has recently decided to unilaterally evacuate its settlements in the Gaza Strip without having obtained a peace agreement with the Palestinians. Which of the following statements is closer to your opinion? (1) Israel’s decision is a capitulation to terrorist violence, or (2) Israel’s decision is a bold step that will advance the peace process.”
Pollsters chalked up the conflicting results to the wording of the questions, saying that the ZOA’s decision to focus on the consequences of disengagement — the evacuation of Jews from Gaza — skewed the results.
The president of the ZOA, Morton Klein, said, in defense of the study’s wording, that it was the only honest way to phrase the question. He charged that other approaches amounted to “a whitewash.”
Klein pointed to some polls of Israelis that showed only slightly more than half the population supporting disengagement, calling that statistic “unimpressive” given that the government, the opposition and the media all support the disengagement policy.
When asked about the ZOA’s poll, disengagement supporters said that if majorities of American Jews and Israelis support the plan, it was not possible that a majority of Americans oppose disengagement,
“If you ask a loaded question, you get a loaded answer,” said Lewis Roth, assistant executive director of Americans for Peace Now. “The vast majority of Americans, and American Jews, support Sharon’s disengagement plan. Aipac adopted language supporting the policy, which wouldn’t have come about if the broad American and American Jewish community did not support Sharon’s disengagement proposal.”
A Yeshiva University poll taken recently found that 65% of American Jews favor the disengagement, with 21% opposed. Another poll, taken in April for Ameinu, a labor Zionist organization, found that 62% of American Jews supported disengagement, with 23% against it.
According to the Yediot Aharonot report about the new ADL poll on American views: “Support for disengagement is overwhelming, and spans all shades of the American spectrum — Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals, Catholics and Protestants, whites, blacks and Hispanics. Support is particularly high among those who describe themselves as supporters of Israel: 79%.”