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Poll: Latinos believe U.S. too supportive of Israel

by Jonah Lowenfeld

March 30, 2011 | 10:15 am

A new poll by the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding (FFEU) finds that nearly half of U.S. Latinos feel that their country is too supportive of Israel. The findings also suggest high levels of anti-Semitism exist in the U.S. Latino community.

Of the 740 people from across the country contacted by phone in early March, half were Latino and half were Jewish. All were asked the same questions.

Forty-six percent of Latino respondents (and 58 percent of Jewish ones) agreed that “anti-Semitism exists in the Latino community.” Smaller numbers of Latinos and Jews (32 and 30 percent, respectively) said “anti-Latino sentiment exists in the Jewish community.”

“We’ve not done our jobs in terms of fostering the alliance between Jews and Latinos,” said Rabbi Marc Schneier, president of FFEU, a New York-based nonprofit. Schneier said the study also showed a failure of American Jews to convey to Latinos the centrality of Israel for Jews and its importance for American foreign policy.

The findings were released on March 28 and were presented at the Bridges and Pathways Strategic Dialogue Conference in San Antonio, Tex., a two-day event dedicated to fostering connections between Jewish and Latino leaders.

That was just days after the Census Bureau announced that the number of Latinos in the country has grown to more than 50 million for the first time. Latinos now make up one-sixth of the total U.S. population.

Schneier said the poll’s findings suggest the American Jewish community’s traditional outreach strategy — “try[ing] to find the one issue that resonates equally in both communities” — would not work for Jews and Latinos. “If we’re going to foster this alliance,” Schneier said, “it has to be done along the lines of a quid pro quo.”

Forming such an alliance would require American Jews to support comprehensive immigration reform in exchange for Latino support for Israel.

The poll results, however, suggest that such an arrangement is a long way off.

Forty-eight percent of American Latinos agree that “United States foreign policy is too supportive of Israel.” Furthermore, a slim majority of American Jews said they support the strict Arizona immigration law passed in 2010, a law that Latinos (including 68 percent of the FFEU poll’s Latino respondents) oppose. Polls have shown that most of the general population supports the law.

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