Jewish Leaders' Reaction to CIS Survey Reveals They Know Their Own Polls Are Bogus

By Stephen Steinlight on January 27, 2010

Following CIS's release of the survey "Religious Leaders vs. Members: An Examination of Contrasting Views on Immigration," the usually loquacious spokespersons for the Jewish Establishment have had little to say other than to downplay findings which reveal a Jewish community split down the middle over immigration between enforcement and legalization. What's more, lopsided majorities of respondents took positions on key policy questions strongly predictive of opposition to amnesty. For example, 60 percent believe the high number of illegal aliens results from the government's historical and ongoing failure to make a serious effort to enforce immigration law, as opposed to 21 percent that believe the cause is insufficient legal immigration; and 61 percent believe there are plenty of Americans willing and able to handle all jobs, while only 16 percent believe we need more immigrants to do work Americans are unable or unwilling to do. These responses strongly indicate the ascending trend favors support for enforcement only policies.

It's therefore astonishing that in a lengthy piece on the survey by Ron Kampeas for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Jewish leaders are reportedly unsurprised and unfazed by survey findings. One would think they ought to regard this survey as profoundly unsettling and entirely counter-intuitive, based on their own "research" showing that the overwhelming majority of Jews back amnesty and mass immigration. The big news is that this is not news to them. The divide, Kampeas writes, is "to be expected, the Jewish leaders say." Richard Foltin, Legislative Affairs Director of the American Jewish Committee (AJC), told the reporter, "We know the Jewish community is not monolithic on this subject," lamely adding, "There's a lot of education that needs to be done in the community." He evidently experienced a memory lapse regarding the decades-long effort by the whole Jewish Establishment to ram support for open immigration down the throat of the Jewish community. Rabbi David Saperstein of the Reform Movement's Religious Action Center (RAC) points out it's not unusual for Jewish leadership to take a "more assertive position on the issues" than the community as a whole, and finds consolation in the fact that a higher percentage of Jews "embrace the 'legal path' option" than members of other faiths.

Whoa. Hold it. How do we understand this Zen-like serenity, the cool unruffled response to what is nothing less than a massive repudiation of the policy equivalent of the Holy of Holies within the Jewish Establishment? Why do Jewish leaders appear unperturbed by findings that refute their own surveys? The explanation for the otherwise unaccountable complacency exhibited by Foltin, Saperstein & Company is the fact that spokespersons for the Jewish Establishment have never placed the slightest credence in their own survey research. To put it differently, they've been consciously purveying disinformation through push-polls designed to manipulate a too-trusting American Jewish community and mislead outsiders about its authentic attitudes towards this issue. When inconvenient truth emerges, the reflexive stance is to appear as blasé as possible – and develop a sudden case of amnesia about their own findings. Their unperturbed responses strongly suggest they've known the real story all along.

Jewish Establishment polling has no intellectual integrity when it comes to immigration. The "dean" of Jewish Establishment organizations (it likes to refer to itself as the think tank of the organized Jewish world), AJC conducts surveys about Jewish attitudes on a variety of questions, including immigration, and questions on immigration appear continually in its publication The Annual Survey of American-Jewish Opinion. The most recent examples of its cooked data on attitudes towards immigration are to be found in Survey volumes for 2006 and 2007.

For both years there's one question asking what should be done with the illegal population. Respondents are given four choices, weighted from the outset to find American Jews are well disposed towards illegal aliens and amnesty. Two of the responses constitute illegal immigrant-friendly positions: #2 Remain to work for a limited [unspecified] amount of time (it received 14 percent approval in 2007); #3 is equivocally worded to "remain to work if they meet several criteria," though the instructions inform respondents this means something different; it "Entails or allows illegal immigrants to remain in the US and become citizens if they meet certain [unnamed] requirements. This response receives 67 percent approval. #4 "Not Sure" garners a mere 4 percent. The sole answer respondents are offered to express objection to illegal immigration is by selecting the nuclear option, the draconian #1 "Deport All" (it receives 15 percent support). Thus, some 81 percent choose illegal-alien friendly responses, and fully 67 percent a "pathway to citizenship."

The Zogby survey released by CIS in late December 2009 shows that, when offered the two options together, 43 percent of Jews chose enforcement only and 40 percent chose amnesty. Why is it spokespersons on immigration within the American Jewish Establishment aren't stunned by a 27 percentage-point drop in support for amnesty? Why aren't they amazed that the 15 percent of respondents that bravely selected the chimerical "Deport all" jumped by 64 percentage points supporting enforcement in the Zogby survey? (See discussion of "attrition" below.)

There are two principal swindles here, one a sin of commission, the other of omission. The sin of commission is a standard transgression in pro-amnesty polls: push respondents to select amnesty by making the alternative as unappealing as possible. "Deport all" conjures jack-booted Gestapo-like SWAT teams engaged in a gigantic roundup, loading illegal aliens, like Jews during the Holocaust, into boxcars headed to the border. It doesn't matter that "Deport All" doesn't count because it is not a real-world choice, supported by no one along the spectrum of opinion on immigration policy. This chimera is offered again and again because it pushes people to reluctantly opt for amnesty.

The sin of omission is the conscious decision not to offer respondents a non-draconian option by means of which they can express their unhappiness with the problem of illegal immigration and their desire for a realistic solution. AJC will not offer the option of "attrition" (employing tighter border controls and stricter enforcement of immigration and immigration-related law within the United States to promote the incremental self-deportation of the illegal population). Every time Zogby or Rasmussen have offered this option, it gains the support of huge majorities of Americans. In the Zogby poll released by CIS, American Jews are given this stand-alone option for the first time: 79 percent selected it.

If CIS were to ape the American Jewish Establishment and play fast and loose with survey questions by employing linguistic equivocation and narrowing the choices offered respondents to manufacture results congruent with its policy preferences, it could have asked only one question – as AJC does – to establish the "truth" about Jewish attitudes towards enforcement or amnesty. AJC uses the draconian "Deport all" to manipulate respondents and will not offer the response it knows is most popular with the American public: "attrition." If CIS cared as little about intellectual integrity, it could respond in kind and ask only the question that offers "attrition" and claim nearly 80 percent of Jews support enforcement only.

That the American Jewish Establishment thinks monolithically dishonors the age-old Jewish tradition of rambunctious debate and intellectual independence; that it monolithically pursues an immigration policy harmful to the national interest is appalling; and that it employs bogus research to manipulate the democratic choices of American Jews and mislead other Americans about Jewish attitudes towards an issue of great moment is disgraceful.