Poll results emphasize need to articulate Pro-Israeli message

by | Apr 23, 2012 | Uncategorized

When measuring peoples’ opinions about Israel, pollster Nathan Klein has found that something as small as the letter “i” can make a big difference.
Speaking to an audience at Ohef Sholom Temple on Sunday, April 15, Klein revealed poll findings that showed questions where the word “Israeli” was used in place of “Israel” elicited a 10 percent jump in positive responses.
Klein is the director of Research and Messaging for The Israel Project, a non-profit educational organization that provides information about Israel and the Middle East to the press, policy makers and the public.
At a brunch briefing presented by the Community Relations Council of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater in partnership with OST’s Adult Education Committee and Men’s Club, Klein shared results from a new bi-partisan poll that examined American attitudes toward the Middle East.
The national survey of 800 registered U.S. voters asked questions that determined opinions on who America should side with in Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians (answer: Israel), why the United States should support Israel (answer: most important ally in the Middle East), and what are the biggest threats to the U.S. (answer: Muslim extremism and Iran’s nuclear program). Klein provided charts that outlined some of the questions and the percentages of positive and negative answers.
“When we look at the results, we can make recommendations on messaging,” Klein says. “We can find out which issues to focus on and which to avoid.”
Among the recommendations Klein shared was to leave the topic of foreign aid out of discussions, but, whenever possible, to articulate a pro-Israeli message that includes Israelis’ desire for peace.
“The number one predictor of support for Israel in this poll came from people who believe that Israel is working toward peace,” says Klein. The top reason for negative attitudes, he adds, is a belief that Israel does not want peace.
Klein also says Jerusalem needs to be a topic of discussion more often, and, when speaking of the city, the word “unified” should be used rather than “undivided.” Again, Klein says, the difference in word choice translates into a 10 percent increase in positive responses.
When speaking about Iran and its nuclear weapons threat, Klein recommends raising the point that the U.S. has voiced concerns for many years.
“We’ve been dealing with the issue for over 10 years,” Klein says. “It’s not sudden. Our goal when talking about Iran is to help people understand the background, the timeline and the threat. Talk about Iran’s instability.”
Ultimately, Klein says, the messages the Jewish community and Israeli supporters need to share with others should be proactive and positive. He stresses that the messages should include the Israeli narrative, and not the Israeli argument, to personalize the issues and create continued support among Americans.

by Laine M. Rutherford