By Jonathan Greenberg, Originally published in The New York Daily News
Earlier this week, the head of J Street — the American advocacy group that consistently pressures and criticizes Israel from the left — wrote a piece for the Washington Post’s “Outrage Machine” blog in which he claimed that the real “pro-Israel” position is to be in favor of the P5+1 nuclear deal with Iran. Not only is Jeremy Ben-Ami, predictably, wrong, but his organization once again finds itself trying to sell a clearly-marked box of hemlock by calling it baking soda.
To bolster his argument, Ben-Ami cited a recent poll published by the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles that found a majority of American Jews support the deal, and a plurality want Congress to approve it.
First and foremost, the poll cited by Ben-Ami is garbage. The pollsters asked respondents if they would support “an agreement . . . reached in which the United States and other countries would lift major economic sanctions against Iran, in exchange for Iran restricting its nuclear program in a way that makes it harder for it to produce nuclear weapons.”
So, they didn’t ask if respondents supported the deal in question. Rather, the pollster favorably characterized the deal and then asked people if they supported that characterization. Steven Cohen, who conducted the poll, is a well-respected sociologist, but even the best get it wrong sometimes.
What’s more, the pro-Israel advocacy group The Israel Project — in a separate poll that began by asking respondents the straight-up question of whether or not they supported the deal — found that a plurality of the Jewish community opposed the deal by a 47-44 margin, that opposition increased the more the respondent knew the details, and that another plurality (45-40) wanted Congress to reject it.