TEL AVIV – Support for Israel among Americans as a whole and among Jewish American college students in particular has dropped dramatically over the last few years, a study released by the Brand Israel Group shows.
“The future of America no longer believe that Israel shares their values. This is huge! Devastating,” Fern Oppenheim, a co-founder of BIG, told the Times of Israel this week.
The Brand Israel Group, comprised of volunteer advertising and marketing specialists, commissioned a large-scale segmentation study in 2010 and a follow-up in 2016.
Approval of Israel among Jewish college students in the U.S. dropped some 27% between 2010 and 2016, the surveys found.
According to Oppenheim, this is due to a perceived lack of shared values between the ultra-liberal Jewish college students and Israel.
Among the U.S. population in general, the Jewish state’s approval rating dropped 14% from 76% to 62%.
“Shared values have been the bedrock of the American-Israeli relationship. Without this connection, the future of the alliance is in jeopardy,” claims the BIG group.
The value gap is only widening between traditional Israel supporters, who are usually older, wealthier, more conservative, whiter Americans, and those BIG labels as “at-risk” — younger, minorities, liberals.
The survey found that 31% of Jewish students reported anti-Semitic incidents with 59% of those saying the incidents were related to anti-Israel attitudes. However, according to BIG, those experiences do nothing to change their opinions of Israel.
“The Jewish college student is the only group more favorable to Palestinians” than Israelis, Oppenheim said, adding that sympathy towards Palestinians rose 18% between 2010-2016.
She said that the trend of “intersectionality” on campuses was mostly to blame for this. The “atmosphere is oppressor versus victim. Israel is just another symbol of this” and all nuance is left aside.
“We are allowing Israel to be defined by its detractors,” she added.
One of the ways to combat this is to change the way Israel is talked about. Instead of constantly emphasizing impersonal statistics, such as those relating to Israel’s high-tech prowess, more conversations need to be taking place about the Jewish state’s other traits such as its diversity and morality.
She gave the example of Ismail Haniyeh, the former prime minister of Gaza-based terror group Hamas, who sent his granddaughter to receive treatment at an Israeli hospital because he knew “Israel is too decent to turn her away.”
“People need to know this,” she added.