General UK Media

Yachad poll on UK Jews & Israel: leftist respondents overrepresented (Update)


A guest post by Jonathan Hoffman

(See important update to this post here)

The recent Yachad poll was widely covered in the MSM. Particularly cited was the result that 24% of British Jews would be prepared to “support some sanctions against Israel” if this would “encourage the Israeli government to engage in the peace process”.

It was widely noted that for people under the age of thirty, the figure rises to 41 per cent. Hannah Weisfeld, the Director of Yachad, was quick to use the poll to try to whip up opposition to Israel within the Jewish Community:

“Members of Anglo-Jewry who have previously been afraid to give voice to their concerns over Israeli government policy, should realise that they are in fact part of the majority.”

But the sampling methodology used in the poll leaves questions to be asked. Until they are answered, the probity of the results cannot be assured.

The methodology is set out in Appendix 1 of the report, on page 49. The total sample size is 1131.

Three methods were used to obtain these respondents: (i) sampling ‘distinctive Jewish names’ (DJN) from the electoral register, which generated 418 responses (ii) ‘snowball sampling’, identifying 72 initial ‘contacts’  (representative according to age, synagogue affiliation and location) and requesting each of these to invite their own contacts to participate; this generated 568 responses, or over half of the total sample (iii) using the Jewish members of Ipsos Mori’s market research panel, generating 145 respondents.

The flaw is in the ‘snowball’ second category. We are not told how the 72 ‘seeds’ were chosen. Indeed the report tells us the following:

“The snowball sample over-represented Jews with a left-leaning political stance and those with post-graduate qualifications; this would have produced a dovish bias.”  

So more than half of the respondents had a dovish bias!

This would not matter if it was offset by a hawkish bias in the other half of the sample. But this was not the case. The panel sample reportedly had a hawkish bias but that only accounts for 13 per cent of the sample. The DJN sample is reported to be broadly unbiased.

The sample of 1131 therefore has an overall dovish bias. To what extent, we do not know – I am trying to find out.

UPDATE Nov. 17th:

I am told by Stephen Miller, Emeritus Professor of Social research at City University and the lead author of the Report, that the 72 were nominated by “our advisory group plus some other contacts”. The ‘advisory group’ – see page 53 – had ten members.  Six are Yachad signatories. Three more are known leftists.   I leave it to you to judge whether those 72 (and the 496 respondents they recruited) are likely to be representative in terms of their views on Israel

UPDATE Nov. 18th: Important additional update here.

50 replies »

  1. As the old saying goes “it’s not what you say it’s the way that you say it”. This anti-Israel organisation used “have you stopped beating your wife”? type of questions.

    • The traditional way of dealing with any question of the “Have you stopped beating your wife” is to ask a question in return, perhaps on the lines of “How do you know she is being beaten?” or “When did you meet her last?”. So when a poll asks something like “Do you disapprove of . . . . whatever?” and expects a response of No/Maybe/Perhaps/Yes/Of course” the best response would have been “Why do you use the word “disapprove”?” and the bias would have been exposed almost immediately.

  2. Actually, it would matter just as much, and be just as biased and unrepresentative if the other respondents were picked on the basis that they represent a “hawkish” bias. Firstly, sorting UK Jews into “hawks” and “doves” is a loaded binary political construct and not a reliable representation of UK Jews, who, like every other group have potentially complex political views which cannot be reduced to such a binary either-or.

    That has no place in serious non-politicised social science research.

    However, even then, picking only half or less than half your group on the basis of loading “hawks” into your non snowball respondents would misrepresent the actual political views of UK Jews, which we do have a reasonably reliable indicator of from the JC polls conducted this year on the actual and notional voting preferences of an politically neutral independent sampling and survey group, Survation, which also conducted its research via telephone polls, which can be regarded as more reliable than box ticking paper forms.

    Those surveys found that a very large majority of British Jews support the supposedly “hawkish” Bibi Netanyahu as the person they would vote for as Israeli’s leader– 69%. An equally very large majority of UK Jews polled supported the Conservatives at the May 2015 general election— 69% said they intended to vote Labour.

    Almost every person involved either as a writer or an advisory panel member on the creation and analysis of the survey is a Labour Party member or voter, and a known supporter of left wing policies opposed to Netanyahu. They are public supporters of the belief that the settlements are at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute and that evacuating them would bring peace.

    They presumably were the ones who decided which 72 people to nominate to seed the snowball.

    One of the reasons I didn’t write about the sampling bias in my ToI blog post on the worthlessness of the Yachad survey is that it’s so opaque. We really can’t know how much it generated bias because we haven’t been told how those 72 people were chosen.

    A really interesting opportunity for gaming this 72 people, claiming to be representative of all shades of Jewish religious affiliation is if the Haredi snowball seed respondents chosen were personally selected by one or more of the advisory panel or the report’s three retired professor authors.

    It would be very easy for them to choose Haredi people they personally know, which would bias the Haredi snowballing sample towards those Haredi outliers who would attend LImmud or have been known to take part in Labour Party events and JLC financed interfaith initiatives.

    But these Haredi Jews, however much their number might be demographically representative would be highly unrepresentative of Haredi Jews as a group, as identifiable from the numbers and known orientations of their synagogue congregations.

    Most Haredi Jews, even if they do not recognise the existence of the state of Israel, would never agree to do a poll which is financed and sponsored by an organisation like Yachad, because it so clearly helps declared enemies of Israel. This would also be true of a great many mainstream Jews. I would never agree to take part in a poll which I knew was sponsored and funded by Yachad, because I would not trust Yachad to do anything but find nifty ways to bend and spin the poll for their own political agenda, which I strongly oppose.

    So one needs to know not only how these 72 seed Jews were chosen, and who did the choosing, but also exactly how the representation of Haredi Jews in both the snowballing sample and the Distinctive Jewish Names sample was achieved. One would also need to know whether those approached were informed that the poll was sponsored by Yachad. One would also need to know how many declined to take part in the survey when approached, and how many from each group of respondents turned the opportunity down when it was presented. One can hypothesise that many UK Jews unsympathetic to or hostile to Yachad would refuse to take part, whereas those sympathetic to Yachad might have been particularly keen to take part. It might well also affect the choices made by the snowball group of respondents, in terms of who they selected to approach.

    We don’t know any of this. But given the agenda-driven nature of Yachad, and the active support of the retired profs for its agenda or similar ones, reinforces the view that it was a loaded poll, loaded in a variety of ways to produce the result Yachad and whoever bankrolled them to pay for this expensive piece of opinion management wanted.

  3. Oops! Error.. Should have said the JC poll found 69% of UK Jews said they intended to vote Tory. That was apparently borne out by the actual election results, though we would need to wait for Prof Geoffrey Alderman to publish his usual analysis of wards with large Jewish populations to see whether the poll results are close to that 69% prediction.

  4. I hope Bibi’s paying you overtime. Scribbling away in your Tel Aviv offices trying with Canutian optimism to hold back the tide changing opinion among the Jewish community!

  5. Did Bibi also pay for the JC Survation telephone poll which found that a large majority of UK Jewish voters backed Bibi Netanyahu in the last Israeli elections in March this year? Did he also pay the JC Survation poll which showed a tide changing opinion poll of Jewish voters — 69% actually– who supported the Conservative Party in the May election? Did Bibi again shell out for the JC Survation poll which showed over 70% of the UK’s Jews were very opposed to supporting Jeremy Corbyn for leader of the Labour Party? These pesky right wing Israel Jews, eh?

  6. Jonathan, Jonathan, Jonathan. Is English your first language? I only ask because you’ve characterised Hannah’s quote about “concerns over Israeli government policy” as “opposition to Israel”, and that’s obviously not what it is.

    In the same way that British people have, over the last decades, expressed concerns about Labour and Conservative governments’ policies, without being ‘opposed to Britain’.

  7. Gabriel
    Jonathan’s English is just fine as is his statistical analysis of a rigged vote . As for ‘Hannah’s quote of concerns over government policy being misread as opposition to Israel’ , the fact that Ben White , Ali Abunimah and other Israel haters are widely quoting from it , would suggest otherwise . But then you already know that.

    • I didn’t say criticism of Israel can’t be misread as opposition to Israel. I referred to Jonathan’s specific claim that Hannah intentionally “tr[ied] to whip up opposition to Israel within the Jewish Community”. I’ve yet to see any evidence for that. Perhaps you can help?

      • Gabriel, I am starting to think that your contributions to these threads are disingenuous and designed for self promotion. What possible explanation can there be for some of the extraordinary positions that you take? In previous exchanges elsewhere you have come out as being opposed to charitable giving, opposed to Israel and now you appear to be supporting poll manipulation and disinformation. I cannot imagine what you plan to do next. Polemics is one thing but this is coming across more as click bait for some other online enterprise. Are you trying to elevate your profile in advance of the launch of a new blog or book?

        • Before I answer your question, could I ask you a couple:
          (1) Can you read?
          (2) Do you know how to copy and paste on a computer?

          If you answered ‘yes’ to both of the above, please could I ask you to copy and paste the actual words with which I “support[ed] poll manipulation and disinformation”?

          Thanks in advance (or not, if it turns out you can’t read or don’t know how to copy and paste).

          • Gabriel, you have used the same opening gambit in 2 separate responses now. I appreciate that it is the nature of these comment sections that people behave differently towards others and with far less courtesy than they would do if they were face to face so I understand your use of condescension in your attempt to make a point. I think that we covered your opposition to charitable giving and to Israel quite comprehensively in our previous engagements so I suggest that we set them to one side here. It now seems obvious that you would be supportive of a body of work derived from such questionable methodology if it reinforced the extraordinary positions that you seem to take on things. It was for this reason that i questioned your motives and suggested that some sort of self advancement or promotion of some other endeavour may be the motive. Is it?

            • Gabriel your first resort always appears to be rudeness and condescension. I am aware that this is the norm for this medium and that comments sections generally are less about sincere discourse and more about vacuous soundbite. i suppose that this is inconsequential to you when your motives appear to be based around building your own brand in support of other endeavours. I expect that there will always be a readership for an author that has publicly opposed charitable giving to the needy, opposes Israel and openly supports a manipulative and mendacious approach to reporting. It seems a reasonably low bar to set for yourself, wouldn’t you say?

              • I notice you say that *my* first resort is rudeness, but you didn’t criticise Jennifer when she called me “a childish brainwashed jerk”. Would you not consider that rude of her? #doublestandards

                • Gabriel. You will note only a single comment from the person you mentioned whereas you have made multiple contributions. This has enabled me to draw a balanced and reasonable conclusion from a broader sample group. This ought to be the basis upon which any fair polling sample is constructed and upon which outcomes are construed. Wouldn’t you agree?

                  • No, multiple responses from the same person does not constitute a “broad[] sample group”. It’s this lack of understanding about polling methodology that underpins your belief in these ludicrous criticisms of the IPSOS-MORI poll.

                    • Gabriel I understand that your volume of posts may be having some impact on your online profile elsewhere and this may be serving your real purpose with these contributions. To some extent I regret that I am now complicit in this. However to be clear when,as an example I see you writing about your opposition to charitable giving and then reinforcing this view in other posts and contributions the volume and consistency of the tone and sentiment expressed enables one to draw the wholly reasonable conclusion that you sincerely oppose charitable giving. Whether your friends and neighbours also share this view is incidental to the point. Similarly in our case here until the lady abovementioned makes another contribution I am unable to draw any firm conclusions as to her real position. That seems to be a sensible approach wouldn’t you say?

                    • Go on, say it again that I’m only posting here to self-publicise. You’ve only said it about six times and it’s a really strong rebuttal of the points I’m making so I wouldn’t want you to underuse it.

        • Ian – given that both UK Media Watch (https://ukmediawatch.org/2015/11/18/update-on-methodology-used-in-yachad-poll-of-british-jews/) and Elder of Ziyon (http://elderofziyon.blogspot.co.uk/2015/11/yachad-uk-poll-of-british-jews-shown-to.html?m=1) have now retracted their allegations that the poll was rigged, can we take it that you’ll be apologising for suggesting that I “support[] poll manipulation and disinformation”? Look forward to hearing from you.

          • Gabriel, I doubt that there are many fair minded people who, having read the way you express your opinions on Israel, would offer an apology for suggesting that you would support any appropriate means to reinforce your position. After all you were quite content to manipulate and distort the recent efforts of one section of the Jewish community and their charitable endeavours so it would be fair to say that you have some ‘previous’ in this area. Nonetheless i think that an opportunity has presented itself for us both to strip away the discourtesy of this online blather and rise above it, hopefully to emerge as better men. I will make you an offer and it is this; I will give you one full grovelling textual apology in words to be agreed and in a forum to be determined if you get in your car, drive to the nearest kosher food retailer, buy some nice Israeli tinned products with a long sell-by date (obviously checking the EU labeling first) and present them at your nearest distribution point for IsrAction Day 2015. Furthermore I will give you one apology for every 3 items that you present. I get to prove that I’m not above an apology and you get to prove that you do not oppose charitable giving. How does that sound?

            • Even better suggestion: “to prove that [I] do not oppose charitable giving, I donate items of my choice to a charity of my choice. That also proves the same thing, yes?

              • Gabriel, you’ve not got the hang of this ‘negotiating’ thing really, much like the Arabs with whom you evidently have much sympathy. I’ll explain; I make an offer that sees me give something away of some value to me and you respond in kind. It’s a bit like Olmert saying to Abbas, “we’ll give you 98% of Judea and Samaria” and Abbas replying ” In return we’ll keep our bedrooms really tidy” See what I mean? Now how about it?

                • You said you want me to “prove” that I’m not opposed to charity. That’s a question of fact. No negotiation necessary. Logic says that I can prove such a thing by donating to a charity. Or do you disagree that that would be proof?

                  • Gabriel, you’re doing it again; trying to score a semantic point rather than seeing the spirit of the offer. This is why your Arab friends don’t get anywhere and this is why you won’t either. You and they should see the offer that are being made. An apology is on the table. Are you really setting pre-conditions?

                    • No, keep up, I’m exposing you as a fraud.

                      You’re desperately trying to smear me by saying, over and over again, that I “oppose charity” (your words, which are defamatory by the way, as well as wholly irrelevant to the topic of this post) yet it will be clear to anyone reading this, including you, that I don’t oppose charity, I just happen to support different ones to you.

                      In the unlikely event that you’re genuinely still sceptical, I’ve even offered to make a donation right now and I’ll happily publish the receipt to prove it.

                      In fact, if you’d bothered to ask, I’d have told you that I am employed by a social action charity that works year round, every single day, to support a wide variety of worthy causes including food banks, homeless shelters, old age homes, children’s hospices and more.

                      So will you now retract (‘without preconditions’, as you’d say, including your rather arbitrary precondition that I should have to donate to a cause of your choice) your smear that I “oppose charity”?

                      A simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ will suffice.

                    • “Expose” away Gabriel although I’d advise younger readers to avert their gaze. I don’t see how you can claim any sort of defamation on anyone’s part. You write your pieces in the public domain and as such you are clearly placing yourself at risk of critique from your readership. As I recall you were quite happy to distort, demean and misrepresent the sincere and kind hearted endeavours of one section of the Jewish community in order to reinforce one of your views on Israel. i indicated that this made you appear to oppose charitable giving which I don’t think is an unreasonable conclusion. What you do or do not do in your private life is your own affair and nothing to do with anyone. However what you say and do in the public arena is a very different matter as I’m sure you will agree. I remain quite prepared to extend a full apology to you as my half of the bargain. In the spirit of compromise why not meet me half way and do your bit?

                    • You said I was opposed to charity. I’m not opposed to charity. I know I’m not opposed to charity. Anyone reading with an IQ of more than 7 knows I’m not opposed to charity.

                      Most importantly, you know I’m not opposed to charity. I don’t know why you’re persisting with this. It achieves nothing but making you look weird.

                    • Gabriel, in summary I have offered you a full apology in return for expending little more effort than buying some nice Israeli tinned food and donating it to the needy on IsrAction day. This is something I imagine most Jewish people would be delighted to do but seemingly not you. Your response has been to call me a fraud, accuse me of defamation and make inferences about my level of intelligence. I concede that I have never taken an IQ test so you may be on to something here. You appear to be getting quite cross and very defensive and have suggested that we have moved away from the original point. I would suggest the opposite. When manipulations are used in any context to present a false picture they can distort the true picture and deceive the public often to detriment of open and reasonable discussion. There is a strong possibility that Yachad have ‘managed’ this story to support their own position and you appear to have supported that course of action. This is no surprise as you have done this in the past to discredit and disparage people that chose to make charitable donations. I think that we should let the other half dozen readers here draw their own conclusions about your real motivations.

  8. Thank you Jonathan. One only had to attend anyone of the three events in London last week about the BBC bias to have witnessed the massive attendances that were not selected in any particular way – over 800 across three events with in excess of 500 at the one in North London. It is sickening that major attention is paid to flimsy polling across the Jewish press and the MSM when it diminishes Israel, but serious discussion about the effect misreporting in the BBC has on the rise on anti-Semitism gets a few short paragraphs in the JC with Jewish News only prepared to print editorial if advertising is purchased. http://www.alondon.net/index.php?action=art&id=8307&BBC+Watch=1&lang=en_GB

    • Following his visit to Israel last week , I believe you can add Boris to the list .
      Pity you continue to shill for the wrong side Stephen especially now .

  9. Jews should learn from historical experience not to become so obsessively focused on internal feuds that they forget what they have in common and fall prey to far more substantial external dangers that they have been too blinkered to notice.

  10. Gabriel I think that you’re assisting me in making my point, albeit only a very narrow one. It is quite challenging to attempt any sort of rebuttal against condescension and derogation so your approach does close several doors to reasonable discourse. As I indicated earlier, I understand that this is the nature of these comment sections. Are you a fan of Mitchell and Webb?

    • Yachad pro Israel pro peace . Really ? Is that why hate groups such as the so called Jewish Voice for Peace are tweeting faux / rigged results

      https://mobile.twitter.com/jvplive/status/665167339927703553

      Hate groups such as the above would never post anything seen to be favourable to Israel but invariably seize upon anything hostile and which can be seen as representing a schism in attitudes to Israel within the community . In this instance Weisfeld gives the haters what they want , not with an honest survey , but with one which has been rigged to suit Yachads own particular delegitimising agenda .
      But congratulations to contrary Hannah . She has gained widespread coverage of a crooked poll in the knowledge that once disseminated it is nigh on impossible to counter . As the adage goes ‘ a lie can travel round the world before truth has got out of bed . Shame on you Hannah Weisfeld and shame on those who fund your ‘ pro Israel pro peace ‘sham activities

      • Hate groups also tweet excerpts from speeches by various right-wing MKs such as those from Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu… are those parties also anti-Israel because their words are taken out of context by anti-Israel groups?

  11. UPDATE Nov. 17th:

    I am told by Stephen Miller, Emeritus Professor of Social research at City University and the lead author of the Report, that the 72 were nominated by “our advisory group plus some other contacts”. The ‘advisory group’ – see page 53 – had ten members. Six are Yachad signatories. Three more are known leftists.

    I leave it to you to judge whether those 72 (and the 496 respondents they recruited) are likely to be representative in terms of their views on Israel

      • Don’t play that card Gabriel .No one is suggesting Leftists cannot take part in a survey . However when you wheel out a disproportionate number of like minded individuals , you have the basis of a rigged poll. You know you have succeeded in your mission when you are quoted by Mondoweiss , White , Abunimah , Jews Sans Frontiere to name but a few . Do you really believe that concocting a rigged poll is the way forward ? On reflection, perhaps you do . Just don’t call yourself pro Israel pro peace .

  12. “Leftists” ?? Oh dear. They are even more despicable than those patriotic Rightists in Israel who this week passed a budget that will waste hundreds of million shekels of the taxpayers money to cling to power for another disastrous year – hundreds of millions going to anti-Zionist Orthodox parties in order to keep their adherents out of the universities, the work force and the army, hundreds of millions going to fund the Bayit HaYehudi takeover of the education system, which will no doubt accelerate the decline of Israeli achievements in the academic sphere; hundreds of millions to build even more settlements, throwing good money after bad.

    Meanwhile our right-wing patriots are handing out the profits from Israel’s gas resources to a handful of their multi-millionaire cronies while at the same time cutting tax benefits to the middle and lower-class residents of Israel’s periphery.

    That is the patriotic way of the National Camp. Screw the average hard-working Israeli citizen and divert his attention with a campaign of fear and hate.

    All experts agree that within 20 years less than half of Israeli will be supporting the majority: The Orthodox will be paid to stay out of the work force while the Arabs will be kept out of the work force by direct and indirect discrimination. Together they will represent over 50% of the population. But this is the Israel that the Right Wing Patriotic National Camp is promising us SO IT MUST BE GOOD !!

    So we must redouble our efforts to attack those nefarious Leftist 5th-column traitors who are selling out the country by educating their children, serving in the army, going to University and contributing to the hi-tech and commercial success of the country. This is NOT THE ZIONIST WAY. Having an opinion is contrary to Zionism ! Democracy, civil rights and humanism are NOT JEWISH VALUES !

    • Maybe the anti-Zionst JINO should move to Gaza to demonstrate that Hamass is not anti-Semitic, anti-Jewish, just anti-Zionist.

      Let’s see if the anti-Zionist JINO can live the life of “authentic Jews” with all the requisite institutional services authentic Jews must have – in Gaza.

    • Just when i think I’ve got some understanding of the way that these comment sections work with rudeness and condescension as the stock in trade we get some post ironic ranting for satirical effect. I assume that’s what it is because a true leftist is as likely to be found in Israel as a true Faberge Egg on Camden Market. The rest of your ‘bit’ was quite funny and I appreciate your commitment to it. Thanks for the BY name check as well. You will obviously have noted their efforts to introduce vocational training to the haredim and to the Israeli Arabs to encourage them into the work place and enhance their opportunities. I assume that you are also a fan of their success at getting the education budget increase which has allowed them to introduce Hebrew language teaching as a compulsory subject in primary school, also designed to optimise opportunities for the students in later life. Of course the faux leftists bleat about this being creeping Jewification and delegitimising the Arab identity but we both know what disingenuous twaddle that is. Roll on Bennett for PM I say so that we can do away with the rest of the fantasist nonsense about two state solutions and focus on the genuine enfranchisement of the stateless in Judea and Samaria and enable the creation of hundreds of new SodaStreams providing real job, benefits and opportunities for Jews and Arabs in a whole Israel. At that point the politically insecure self doubters at Yachad can commission some real research to find out what Jews really think about things.

  13. 24% of British Jews would be prepared to “support some sanctions against Israel” if this would “encourage the Israeli government to engage in the peace process”.

    76% of British Jews are very and supportive of Israel fighting endless wars, sacrificing their children, pay high taxes, high prices, etc, etc, etc, while they live in comfortable London, their children not in danger, etc, etc, etc.

    • What’s more of an “endless war” than Moohammeds army of jihadis who are at war with Bahais, Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jews, Sikhs, Zoroastrians and the wrong kind of Muslim (sunni/shiite/salafi/wahabbi)?

  14. Having heard and seen Hannah Weisfeld in action I can categorically state that any poll she will have been involved in will have been slanted from the start.

    I once tried to ask her 2 questions in a public forum where she was a speaker. (I had naively participated because I thought she and her organisation cared about Israel and peace for the region.)

    My first question was ” as you are organising trips to the West Bank to see the plight of the Palestinians are you also organising trips to Sderot to see the plight of the Israeli children who have had TWELVE THOUSAND missiles directed at them since Israel PULLED OUT of Gaza?”

    My second question was in response to her rant against building in the territories – for her the root of all evil and apparently JUSTIFYING any “counter action”. I asked her if she was EQUATING building homes with blowing people up?

    She point blank refused to answer either of my questions. In fact became angry and abusive!

    So not what you would call a person interested to hear any but her own point of view.

    Her poll therefore would clearly be tainted.

    (I can’t help wondering what has made this young woman so bitter and angry against her own people. She is clearly highly intelligent so it must be a trauma rather than ignorance that fuels her mis-guided view )