European Jewish communal leaders: Apathy and internal alienation a greater threat to our future here than antisemitism

Survey also suggests support for Israel has strengthened but back give space for internal debate about Israel


A survey of European Jewish leaders has found that they see the alienation of Jews from communal life and lack of engagement by communal members as a bigger threat to Jewish life rather than antisemitism.

The survey, which was conducted by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee’s International Centre for Community Developments, was conducted online in 10 languages and polled 893 respondents in 29 countries.

Questioned as to “which of the following are the most serious threats to the future of Jewish life in your country”, 66 per cent of respondents selected “alienation of Jews from the Jewish community life” and 65 percent picked “demographic decline”.

Three other choices, “lack of engagement by members of the community”, “Weakness of Jewish Organisations/Lack of renewal” and “Ignorance/declining knowledge about Judaism”, received 62 percent, 60 percent and 56 percent respectively.

“Antisemitism” also received 56 percent.

Results from the survey also suggested that support for Israel has strengthened among communal leaders since the last survey in 2015.

That survey found, when presented with the statement “I support Israel fully, regardless of how its government behaves”, 28 percent selected “strongly agree” and 28 percent “rather agree”, while 26 percent selected “rather disagree” and 15 percent “strongly disagree”.

But the new survey found 36 percent strongly agreed and 32 percent rather agreed, while 19 percent rather disagreed and 11 percent strongly disagreed.

There was a strong consensus over the need to provide space for open political debate about Israel within the communities.

The 2018 survey replicated the 2011 and 2015 ones, which found overwhelming agreement (49 percent strongly and 35 percent rather agree) that Jewish communities should provide opportunities for members to share different opinions and points of view on Israel and its policies.

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