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What Jews Think

The release this month by the American Jewish Committee of its annual survey of American Jewish opinion generated a few headlines with its finding that Hillary Clinton was the favorite contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, and Rudy Giuliani for the Republican nomination. A few newspapers, especially in Israel, delved into a few other notable findings.

For one, the past year saw a slight decline in the percentage of Jews who feel “very close” to Israel, to 30% in 2007 from 37% in 2006. For another, the issue most often selected as the most important in choosing a president next year was “the economy and jobs” at 22%, in contrast to the war in Iraq, cited by just 16%.

Largely unreported were a host of other findings, from immigration reform (an overwhelming 67% favored giving illegals a pathway to citizenship) and energy independence (82% called it “very important”) to increasingly gloomy views of the prospects for peace in the Middle East.

One of the survey’s most intriguing findings, however, went entirely unnoticed. Asked about the issues that will determine their presidential vote next year, a strong plurality of 42% picked either “economy and jobs” or “health care,” the two domestic economic choices offered. By contrast, only 36% picked one of the three Middle East-related suggestions, the war in Iraq (16%), “terrorism and national security” (14%) or “support for Israel” (6%).

Trailing far behind were the survey’s noneconomic domestic choices, immigration (6%), the “energy crisis” (6%) and education (4%). Global warming and the environment were not among the choices, nor was the future of the Supreme Court.

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