Do Orthodox Jews support Israel?

The overwhelming majority of Orthodox Jews support Israel. One of the biggest lies that’s perpetuated in anti-Zionist circles is that orthodox Jews do not support the existence of the State of Israel. While religious opposition to Israel does exist, it comes from a tiny community.

How many orthodox Jews support Israel?

Less than 300,000 orthodox Jews oppose Israel1, out of an estimated 2.5 and 6.5 million worldwide2. This means that up to 95% of orthodox Jews support Israel’s existence.

Which Orthodox Jews oppose Israel?

Orthodox Judaism can be roughly divided into two camps – Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews. Ashkenazim are the Jews who follow the customs and prayer rites that evolved in Central and Eastern Europe during the Middle Ages. In contrast, sephardim are the Jews that descend from the ancient communities of the Middle East and North Africa. Their name comes from a prayer rite which was almost universally adopted by these communities.

Orthodox Jews who oppose Israel generally belong to tiny sects of ashkenazi Jews from Central and Eastern Europe. Almost all of these sects were created less than 100 years ago (such as Satmar, Shomrei Emunim and Neturei Karta). Before their emergence there was not one Jewish group that considered opposition to Israel a fundamental or defining belief.

Today opposition to Israel is an extreme fringe position amongst the orthodox. Almost all Ashkenazi communities (from which groups like Neturei Karta emerged) support the existence of Israel. Support is so strong amongst ashkenazim that they have large political parties in Israel’s parliament (such as United Torah Judaism). Unlike the Ashkenazim who produced a small number hostile groups, the Sephardim are almost entirely unified in their support of the Jewish State. Just like the Ashkenazim, they have large political parties in the Israeli Parliament (such as Shas).

Summary of “Do Orthodox Jews support Israel”

  • The overwhelming majority of orthodox Jews support Israel.
  • Amongst orthodox Jews, opposition to Israel is an extremely fringe position
  • This belief only really took root amongst tiny sects of Jews from Eastern and Central Europe.
  • These sects are less than 100 years old.

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Sources

1. There is estimated to be around 1.3 million ultra-orthodox Jews worldwide.3 In 2005, Prof. Jacques Gutwirth estimated there were some 400,000 hasidic Jews worldwide. This is a breakdown of the largest anti-Israel sects:4

120,000 – Satmar
22,000 – Skver
15,400 – Sanz-Klausenburg
15,400- Shomer Emunim
5,000 – Neturei Karta (not strictly chassidim)
171,800

Some of the hasidic sects that oppose Israel are impossible to size, such as Dushinsky, Puppa and Spinka. To deal with this we rounded the number up to 300,000. This is incredibly generous as some of the biggest hasidic sects are not opposed to Israel’s existence. Instead they’re represented by one of the largest political parties in Israel (Agudas Yisroel). The remaining ultra-orthodox Jews, be they sephardi or ashkenazi (such as the mitnagdim), overwhelmingly support Israel.

2. According to their “How Strong is Orthodox Judaism — Really?” report by Daniel J. Elazar, the Jewish Centre for Public Affairs estimate that 33 – 45% of Jews worldwide are orthodox. In the Sergio DellaPergola “World Jewish Population, 2015”. The global Jewish population was estimated at 14.3 million. That would make a maximum 6.4 million Jews orthodox. This would mean that 95.4% of all Jews do not oppose the existence of Israel (0.3 m / 6.4 m).

3. 2007 study by Dr Yaakov Wise at the University of Manchester.

4. Where we were only able to get the number of families, we multiplied the number by 7.7 as the average hasidic family has 6.7 children: Paul Morland (April 7, 2014). “Israeli women do it by the numbers” The Jewish Chronicle.