JH Dec 12
Jonathan Hoffman

By Jonathan Hoffman, Former co-vice chair, Zionist Federation

Hannah Weisfeld accused critics of this month’s Yachad poll on UK Jewish attitudes toward Israel of bad faith, suggesting that the criticisms stem from disagreement with the results and accusing the critics of making people feel ‘uncomfortable using the word Zionist’.

What utter nonsense.

It speaks volumes that Weisfeld fails to address the genuine concerns about the Yachad poll, instead playing the man and not the ball. 

Those concerns are as follows.

Unlike for example the poll before the Israeli election which showed that 67% of those with an opinion supported Bibi Netanyahu, Yachad has not made available a web address where full computer tables of the poll may be viewed; the
 weighted and unweighted bases for all demographics and other data that has been published; and a description of the weighting procedures employed and weighted and unweighted figures for all variables (demographic or otherwise) used to weight the data.

All these are required by the British Polling Council (BPC) for polls carried out by its members. Yachad was able to avoid these requirements because the role of Ipsos Mori (a BPC member) was solely one of data collection. Ipsos Mori did not undertake the research design, analysis and interpretation of the data.  

Another concern was the methodology for choosing the ‘snowball’ respondents which made up half of the total sample. 72 initial ‘contacts’ were identified as respondents and asked to nominate more respondents. But those 72 were chosen by the research team and the advisory group. That advisory group had ten members.  Six are Yachad signatories. Three more are known leftists.  Yet Yachad describes the poll as “independent”! 

Despite these shortcomings, Weisfeld brazenly misused the Yachad poll to incite opposition to Israel, saying: “Members of Anglo-Jewry who have previously been afraid to give voice to their concerns over Israeli government policy, should realise that they are in fact part of the majority.” 

The harsh truth is that the world has not moved Yachad’s way. In 2011 it supported the establishment of a Palestinian State when it seemed that there might be a vote in the UN. The fact that a Palestinian State would have been a terror State which posed an existential threat to Israel was of no concern to Yachad. Then in 2013 the ZF saw right through the ‘pro-Israel, pro-peace’ misnomer and sent Yachad packing when it applied for membership.  More recently still Yachad supported the EU move to label goods from Judea and Samaria, a move criticised by mainstream communal organisations and by the Israeli government and a move which in reality is a step in the direction of a boycott. 

Hannah Weisfeld clearly hoped that commissioning a poll with questions designed to elicit the responses it wanted, from a significant minority (“I would be prepared to support some sanctions against Israel if I thought they would encourage the Israeli government to engage in the peace process”) would divert attention from Yachad’s failure to either achieve its aims or persuade more to its cause. But just what kind of fools does she take us for?