Contemporary Jewry

, Volume 30, Issue 2–3, pp 297–319 | Cite as

Trends in American Jewish Attachment to Israel: An Assessment of the “Distancing” Hypothesis

  • Theodore SassonEmail author
  • Charles Kadushin
  • Leonard Saxe


In recent years, social scientists have claimed that American Jews, in particular in the younger generation, have grown more distant from Israel. This paper draws on evidence from national surveys conducted over two decades to assess the “distancing hypothesis.” The survey data suggest that emotional attachment to Israel has varied within a narrow band, with no consistent pattern of increase or decrease. Predictions of distancing appear to be incorrect and several factors which were presumed to underlie distancing are examined: generational turnover, intermarriage and political alienation. These factors appear to have only small impact on the overall level of American Jewish attachment to Israel. An alternative narrative is suggested and the implications for the future relationship of American Jews to Israel are discussed.


Diaspora-Israel American Jewish opinion Intermarriage 



The authors gratefully acknowledge colleagues who commented on earlier drafts of this paper, including Steven M. Cohen, Shaul Kelner, Ezra Kopelowitz, David Mittelberg, Joel Perlmann, Benjamin Phillips, as well as this journal’s anonymous reviewers.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Theodore Sasson
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Charles Kadushin
    • 1
  • Leonard Saxe
    • 1
  1. 1.Middlebury CollegeMiddleburyUSA
  2. 2.Brandeis UniversityWalthamUSA

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