Stephen Steinlight emails: This is the lengthy piece (a sure sign they know the story is important) that JTA ran today on CIS’s latest poll on the widening gulf separating the pulpit from the pews in America on immigration — or, to be more specific, the section that deals with American-Jewish opinion. The findings are enormously important and welcome: they suggest an historic shift in attitude within the American Jewish community, and a growing divide between ordinary American Jews and their putative leaders on immigration(the story does let Establishment spokespersons get away with murder on some of their claims in this regard). It shows the Jewish community, like the rest of America, is moving our way.
Forgive the self-congratulation, but I think the two Steves did just fine, especially given the fact that JTA is, ultimately, Pravda for the Jewish Establishment and however fair the reporter endeavored to be, the final slant was inevitable. But we had plenty of opportunity to score significant points, and I give the reporter credit for letting us say as much of our say as was published.
“We know that the Jewish community is not monolithic on this subject,” said Richard Foltin, the American Jewish Committee’s legislative director and counsel. “To the extent that it’s a fair representation, there’s a lot of education that needs to be done in the community.”
Rabbi David Saperstein, who directs the Reform movement’s Religious Action Center, said the leadership and the rank and file occasionally outpace one another on issues.
“It’s not unusual for leadership to take a more assertive position on the issues than the amcha,” he said, using the Hebrew term for the rank and file. “Sometimes the leadership is ahead, sometimes the grass roots is ahead — it usually averages out.”
Stephen Steinlight, a senior analyst with CIS who for six years has preached enforcement to Jewish audiences, said he couldn’t help but experience a degree of Schadenfreude at the results.
“I feel vindicated,” he said. “The survey signals a massive rejection against the worldview of the American Jewish establishment, which is monolithic. There’s not a single organization represented in the JCPA,” the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the umbrella body for public policy groups, “that reflects these views.”