November 3, 2005
The Determinants of Middle East Salience among American Jews
Kenneth Wald's presentation on "The Determinants of Middle East Salience among American Jews" focused on what is often regarded as the exemplar of a mobilized diaspora, American Jewry; such work reduces the current dearth of knowledge about when and how diasporas are politically mobilized around issues in the homeland. Other ethnic groups frequently define their ambitions by pointing to the apparent success of American Jewry in building domestic support for Israel. Survey data suggest that the image of a policy juggernaut that draws on a mobilized diaspora needs to be revised based on evidence that American Jews differ among themselves on the salience attributed to the Arab-Israel conflict. The data in the Jewish case show that a considerable number of diaspora members do adjust their political behavior out of concern for the homeland. Kenneth Wald, Distinguished Professor of Political Science at the University of Florida, led the discussion.