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					   American Jews & Israel:
The Sources of Politicized Ethnic Identity

   Kenneth D. Wald & Bryan Williams


                    Published in
           Nationalism & Ethnic Politics,
                    Volume 12
              (Summer 2006), 1-33.
Reasons to assume strong support
 for Israel from American Jewry
   Spiritualized ethnic identity
   Means to maintain Jewish continuity
   Place to recognize Jewish social
    values
   Psychological and symbolic
    gratification
    Is Israel Important to American
                 Jews?
Both sessions opened with responses to very general
questions on what parts of being Jewish the participants
found attractive and unattractive. None of the participants in
either focus group so much as mentioned Israel during these
initial conversations, each of which lasted about half an hour
[emphasis mine] . . . For these focus group participants, at
least, Israel carries little real import in the private sphere of
Jewish identity, the part that is closest to their inner core.
                                       --Steven M. Cohen (2002)
Another component of young Jewish self-association is Israel
– but it is frighteningly weak and ill-defined. Six times we
have brought Jewish youth together as a group to talk about
their Jewishness and connection to Israel. Six times the
topic of Israel did not come up until it was prompted. Six
times these Jewish youth used the word “they” rather than
“us” to describe the situation, conditions and opinions about
the country. There is a distance and detachment between
young American Jews and their Israeli cousins
                                           --Frank Luntz (2003)
          Research Question
   What accounts for variability in the
    political centrality of Israel among
    Jews in the United States?
   Examine the micro-foundations or
    “readiness for mobilization” through
    an opinion survey of American Jews.
          Dependent Variable
   Disposition of American Jews to
    “perceive the sociopolitical landscape
    from the vantage point of the ethnic
    group” (Lapid,1987)
   Also known as
    • Politicized ethnic identity (Sears et al.,
      2003)
    • Politicized collective identity (Simon and
      Klandermans, 2001)
                          PEI Scale
Which of the following statements best describes the importance of
   the Arab-Israeli conflict to you personally?
1. It is the single most important issue for me
2. It is among the top three most important issues for me.
3. It is among the top five most important issues for me.
4. It is not among the top five most important issues for me.

In the next national elections, how important will the candidates’
   positions on the Arab-Israeli conflict be in your voting decision –
   very important, somewhat important, or not important?

Which of the following statements best describes the importance of
   U.S. support for Israel to you personally?
1. It is the single most important issue for me.
2. It is among the top three most important issues for me.
3. It is among the top five most important issues for me.
4. It is not among the top five most important issues for me.

Have you ever “written a letter, made a telephone call, or done
  anything else to express your views on the Arab-Israeli conflict
  directly to a government official, newspaper, or magazine?
  (Yes/No)
Distribution of PEI
    Sources of Individual Differences
   Hypothesis: Strong ethnic
    attachment promotes PEI
   Constructivist approach to ethnicity
   Core domains of attachment (Kotler-
    Berkowitz, 2005)
    • Cultural
    • Social
    • Cognitive
                   Data
   Zogby “culture polls” of 1999-2000
   Period of relative calm and stability
    in Arab-Israeli conflict
   Screened to locate self-identified
    ethnic groups
   Produced Jewish subsample (n=589)
        Independent Variables
   Cultural attachment – synagogue
    attendance
   Social attachment – neighborhood,
    friendships, age (+), education (-),
    generation in US (-), economic resources
    (-)
   Cognitive attachment – pride in ethnic
    heritage, ethnic identity, emotional tie
   Misc. controls – gender, Middle East
    affect, discrimination
Influences on PEI
Predicted Values of PEI

				
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