Poll shows British Jews ‘despair’ at Israeli peace effort

© Paul Hackett
The majority of British Jews do not believe Israel’s efforts to make peace with the Palestinians are working, a new poll shows. Many also think Israel’s continued occupation of Palestinian territories is detrimental to its standing in the world.

The research, carried out by British pro-peace organization Yachad, found that over two-thirds of respondents feel a “sense of despair” when new Israeli settlements are approved in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Some 90 percent of those polled support Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, but the research found many British Jews don’t support many government policies.

Over half said Israel “will be seen as an apartheid state if it tries to retain control over borders that contain more Arabs than Jews,” the study said.

The organization also found that three-quarters of respondents believe “the expansion of settlements on the West Bank is a major obstacle to peace,” with 72 percent rejecting the idea that Palestinians “have no legitimate claim to a land of their own.”

Some 73 percent agree the state’s approach to peace is damaging its standing in the world.

The respondents were also questioned about the conflict in Gaza during the summer of 2014. The majority believed Israel was right to respond to the rockets fired from Gaza, but just over a third said the response was disproportionate.

During the conflict, more than 2,000 Palestinians were killed, the vast majority of them civilians, while 66 Israeli soldiers died.

Stephen Miller, who led the poll analysis, said there is a marked difference between generations, with younger British Jews more likely to be pro-peace.

“Our research shows that although British Jews are overwhelmingly supportive of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, proud of its achievements and mindful of its security needs, their attitudes to its policies and conduct are far more diverse, and far more critical, than many would have expected,” he said.

In the UK more than 300 academics have shown their support for the boycott of Israel.

London Mayor Boris Johnson dismissed the call to boycott, arguing Israel is the only functioning democracy in the Middle East.

“I cannot think of anything more foolish than to say you want to have any kind of divestment or sanctions or boycott against a country that, when all is said and done, is the only democracy in the region, is the only place that has, in my view, a pluralist open society,” he told reporters during a visit to Jerusalem.