Re: Hugging Israel seriously
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Re: Hugging Israel seriously

December 30, 2018 07:29AM
Any information that helps understand the dynamic of the relationship with Israel amongst young American students is potentially valuable. To that end, the study posted on “Hugging Israel” by Alex Pomson contributes to that end. But the results need to be viewed with caution, for several reasons. First, the methodology is less than ideal, with sampling not being truly random and numbers of participants being small. Generalizing on the basis of those findings would probably not be warranted. Second, the phlegmatic thinking of young people and their development of ideas, attitudes and beliefs would limit the conclusions we can reach from the students studied. This is especially true when they are asked directly and specifically about a subject (Israel) that they may not even have a clear understanding of. We always need to be careful when studying a particular subject area that we do not bias our conclusions with our conventional wisdom of that area and our expectations.

I say this because I am in the midst of a study on American Jews that sought to look at the notion of connectivity, or lack of it, with Israel. In our preliminary information gathering, we spoke with young people, community leaders and activists. Each had something to say, but these were opinions on what they believed to be happening and not necessarily what was really going on. When we actually conducted a study, it was with a truly random group of Jews and under conditions where the notion of “Israel” was studied along with other ideas and attitudes. What we found was not what we expected, and certainly not what those who we spoke with thought would be found. Our preliminary information led us to believe that there is a disconnect, confusion and much discontent between USA Jews and “Israel.” When we tested that notion with a random selection of Jews “blind” to the purpose of the study, we found their ideas re Israel were far more sympathetic, non-critical and less confused that we were led to believe by speaking to people in the field.

Since ours is an incomplete study, it could be that with further investigation and as we move deeper into the study, we will find different data. However, it does show that it is important to plan and design an investigation carefully. It also shows that potential bias can be introduced through “expectation” effects. We also need to be cognizant about where we get our information from. Media and the dissemination of information is ever-present, but not always accurate. We probably should not base expectations on the opinions of selective individuals who may not be representative of the population at large. Finally, any data on young people is bound to change, not only on Israel, but on everything. The opinions and behavior of young people, and how they think about Israel is part of that. We decided not to include subjects under the age of 30 on our study precisely for that reason. Consistency is not a hallmark of youthful thinking, so trying to make sense of the difference between a 15 year old and a 21 year old will be challenging. In fact, young people continue to change and develop, including in their college years.

Trying to find out what makes young Jews “connect” with Israel should not be difficult. I would suggest that the way to go about this is not to limit ourselves by looking at recent day school students who may or may not “connect,” but to look at a solid group of adult day school graduates who are indeed “connected” and have been for many years. Since whatever they experienced was successful, why not learn from that and try replicate it? Similarly, look at those that are not “connected” and study what variables created the alienation. Behavior is consistent and how behavior develops is also consistent. We don’t have to re-invent the wheel when we already have a group of people who are using a very functional wheel they got years ago.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/30/2018 07:30AM by mlb.
Subject Author Posted

Hugging Israel seriously

Alex Pomson December 12, 2018 12:23PM

Re: Hugging Israel seriously

Irwin Mansdorf December 30, 2018 07:29AM


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