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Some 59 percent of the Jewish public in Israel have reservations about the criticism voiced by the writer A.B. Yehoshua concerning the Jews of the Diaspora.

This is the finding of a survey conducted on behalf of the B'nai B'rith World Center by the Geocartography Institute.

Speaking last month in Washington at the centennial celebration of the American Jewish Congress, Yehoshua said that Israeli Jewish identity is part of the Jewish citizens' skin since it deals with the full spectrum of Jewish life on a daily basis while the Jews of the Diaspora take their Judaism on and off like a coat. He later apologized for insulting Diaspora Jewry.

In the survey ordered by B'nai B'rith, only 22 percent of the respondents said they agreed with Yehoshua, and that they felt there was no significance to Jewish existence outside Israel.

However, 59 percent said they do not agree with Yehoshua's comments, and another 10 percent said they do not completely agree.

B'nai B'rith World Center Director Alan Schneider said the findings had surprised him since he had expected more people to be supportive of Yehoshua's comments "in view of the negation of the Diaspora by some of Israel's leaders."

Another surprising finding in the survey was that only 11 percent of the respondents felt Israel needed less support from American Jewry now that the largest number of Jews is to be found in Israel.

Some 24 percent said that Israel needs more support from American Jewry than in the past and 26 percent said that Israel now needs "much more" support from American Jewry.

Asked about the coverage of Diaspora Jewry by the Israeli media, 60 percent of respondents felt that the Israeli media do not supply sufficient information about Jews in the Diaspora.

Some 20 percent said that the media do give sufficient information, and the remaining 20 percent said they "did not know."

Some 49 percent said they would like to see television series about Diaspora Jews such as the series on U.S. Jewry that ran on Channel 1 this year.