Treasure Trove of Information - December 22, 2023

Mazel tov to Judy Margles, Executive Director of the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education for the past 24 years, on her retirement! Judy has been active with the organization since 1989, prior to its current configuration. She has overseen the growth and expansion of the museum from “a museum without walls” to Montgomery Park to Chinatown to NW Kearney to its magnificent space on NW Davis. Plus, the addition of the Center for Holocaust Education provides expanded educational programs for students and teachers to learn the important lessons from the horrors of the Holocaust. And there is so much more – read page 7 of the latest issue of the Jewish Review.


Judy has been an incredible colleague and mentor to me, as well as a force in the Jewish museum world. She has brought all the best qualities of leadership to her role – vision, energy, commitment to her professional team, and the willingness to say “no.” She is a treasure trove of information, stories, and love for this Jewish community that will be sorely missed. Judy, our community wishes you well in your retirement. THANK YOU for what you have done to preserve the memories of our community and your efforts to build its future.


We look forward to welcoming Dr. Rebekah Sobel as the new Executive Director in January.



Speaking of information, some very telling/interesting/alarming poll data has come out in the past few days. It is important to note that when reading the data the polls surveyed different groups -- Americans in general, American Jews only, Israelis, Israeli-Arabs, and Palestinians:


Harvard-Harris poll of Americans found:


  • 51% of those 18-24 believe that the long-term answer for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is for "Israel to be ended and given to Hamas and the Palestinians," although another poll question on Israel’s right to exist, found that 69% of that cohort believes Israel does have the right to exist.


  • 60% of those 18-24 said that the Hamas atrocities of October 7 were “justified by the grievances of the Palestinians.” Large majorities of every other age group said they were not justified.


  • 67% of those ages 18 to 24 and 44% of those ages 25-34 agree with the proposition that “Jews as a class are oppressors.” By contrast, only 9% of Americans over 65 feel that way. As one commentator noted, “The same generation that received the most instruction in the virtues of tolerance is now the most antisemitic in recent memory.”


  • 53% of those ages 18-24 think that college students should be free to advocate for the genocide of Jews.


This week’s NYT/Siena poll offered data points underscoring the generational gap of Americans over support for Israel:


  • Americans sympathize with Israel by a 2:1 margin over the Palestinians. Those over age 45 back Israel over the Palestinians by over 40 points. However, for people ages 18-29, they side with the Palestinians by a 19-point spread.


  • The poll also showed a close divide among Americans who want Israel to continue its military operation until Hamas is eliminated even if it means there will be more civilian casualties (39%), compared to those who believe Israel should stop its military campaign to prevent civilian casualties (44%). Those over the age of 45 back Israel’s military campaign against Hamas by double-digits, but those under 30 want Israel to halt its military operation by a 45-point margin.


new poll this morning from the Israel Democracy Institute shows 81% of Israelis believe that the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza should not be taken into account in planning military operations.


poll, conducted by Schoen Cooperman Research (SCR), found that 81% of American Jews support Israel continuing its military operation to “recover all Israeli hostages and remove Hamas from power.” Only 12% of respondents said they preferred “an immediate ceasefire to save Palestinian lives, even if that means “Israeli hostages aren’t recovered and Hamas remains in power.”


The Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research shared a poll with respondents from both the West Bank and Gaza. The questions centered around October 7 and the subsequent Israel-Hamas war.


  • More than 90% of Palestinians surveyed believe that Hamas fighters did not commit the atrocities contained in the videos. They say they have not seen any video or social media evidence of the atrocities.


  • A majority of the respondents believe that Hamas' decision to carry out the offensive is correct and believe that the attack came in response to “settler attacks on Al-Aqsa Mosque and West Bank residents, and for the release of Palestinian prisoners.”


The Israel Democracy Institute released a survey that shows 70% of Arab citizens of Israel feel kinship with the state since October 7 compared to 48% when the survey was last taken in June. This number is the highest it has been in decades.


A December poll from the Konrad Adenauer Program for Jewish-Arab Cooperation revealed that for the first time in the poll’s history, the percentage of Israeli Arabs who identified as Israeli (33%) was higher (albeit within the margin of error) than the number who identified as Palestinian (32%).


And a poll from Tel Aviv University found that only a third of Israelis were in favor of peace talks with the Palestinian Authority and nearly two-thirds (63%) opposed the establishment of a Palestinian state.


This is a lot of data to absorb. It shows me we have a lot of listening, educating, and thinking to do. Generations feel differently. Israelis, who live this every day, have different sentiments than Americans. And Jews feel differently than the general American population. None of this is easy.


A few quick announcements:


I encourage you to watch this short video message to soldiers in the IDF from the mother of one of the three hostages who was accidentally and tragically killed. It is quite moving and shows the deep love the country has for its soldiers and their difficult task.


The Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education is presenting the Portland Jewish Film Festival from January 9-14, 2024. All films will be screened at Portland State University’s Lincoln Hall. There are five new full-length films and two selected shorts that explore the complexity, history, and joy of Jewish life. More information here.


An important clarification from my Tuesday email. New Seasons, the corporation, does not take any stance on the war. It is the New Seasons Labor Union (not every store is unionized) where the anti-Israel advocacy is happening.


Our weekly Wednesday webinar series with voices from people on the ground in Israel is a major success. This past week we heard from the Israel Story podcasters – recording hereNext week we will hear from representatives of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) about the incredible work they are doing throughout Israel. Register here.


As we approach the end of the calendar year, please make your year-end contributions by clicking here.


Last night, we celebrated the hibernal (or winter) solstice at 7:27 p.m., marking the shortest day – and longest night – of 2023. Luckily, we will see only more sunlight in the months ahead.


Shabbat shalom.


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