Netanyahu Halts Distribution of 'Loyalty' Poll to U.S. Jews, Israeli Expats

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday ordered Israel’s immigrant absorption and foreign ministries to cease distribution of a controversial questionnaire already sent to tens of thousands of Israelis living in the United States and Jewish Americans, asking them to indicate where their allegiance would lie in the case of a crisis between the two countries.

Netanyahu also instructed all official government agencies from promoting the questionnaire. News of the questionnaire, reported in Haaretz on Sunday, promoted an uproar in the Jewish media.

The survey was commissioned by the Israeli American Council, a private nonprofit group based in Los Angeles. Its mission is "to build an active and giving Israeli-American community in order to strengthen the State of Israel, our next generation, and to provide a bridge to the Jewish-American community,” according to the IAC website.

Two sensitive and potentially explosive issues that have always clouded the relationship between the Jewish community in the United States and the State of Israel related precisely to the issues raised in the survey: firstly claims of “dual allegiance” to both Israel and the United States; the other concerns the pro-Israel, American “Jewish lobby.” Many of those raising such claims against American Jewry have themselves been accused of anti-Semitism.

The IAC was established by Israelis living in Los Angeles in 2007, and is primarily supported by Israeli-American businessman Haim Saban, who has donated close to a million dollars in the past four years.

In September, the IAC announced plans to expand by establishing new branches throughout the United States. Conducting the survey is seen as part of this process.

New Jewish immigrants from the U.S. and Canada arriving at Ben-Gurion International Airport, July 23, 2013.Credit: AP