Among the findings of a new poll commissioned by the Workmen’s Circle and conducted by Professors Steven M. Cohen and Samuel Abrams, according to a release, is that American Jews aged 18-34 who were not raised Orthodox or in a Jewish day school—that is, young American Jews most likely to have gone on Birthright or had friends who did—possess an “increased emotional attachment” to Israel, particularly compared to those slightly older than they (who were Birthright-age before Birthright existed). At the same time, the poll, whose sub-set had 888 respondents, found “decreased trust in Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians.” [...]
Meanwhile, there’s the political angle. Said Abrams, the other professor, “Among those under 35, people in my own age demographic, Jews can be both attached to Israel and assume fairly independent if not skeptical stances toward Israeli government policies.” This actually mirrors what my far more informal survey of our own Birthright trip found: a strong connection with Israel (and Jewishness); and curiosity about Israeli politics that, I predicted, will lead new lovers of Israel to take issue with some of the things Israel is up to.
This is hardly surprising: Young Jews see the immoral nature of the occupation, Israeli resistance to recognising it, and understand the inherent problem. That breeds cynicism. The way to save support among young Diaspora Jewry is to get the occupation monkey off Israel’s back. We want to love Israel, but the occupation makes it damn hard.