Sympathy for Palestinians over Israel up sharply among younger Americans, Pew study finds


Democrats are more than four times as likely as Republicans to say they sympathize more with the Palestinians than with Israel, according to a survey published Thursday, and sympathy for the Palestinians among Americans overall is growing.

Sympathy for the Palestinians is up most sharply among the youngest American adults, growing threefold over the last decade, the new survey by the Pew Research Center shows. Some 27 percent of millennials say they are more sympathetic to the Palestinians than Israel; in 2006 the figure was 9 percent. The share of those favoring Israel has held steady at about 43 percent.

On Israel, the survey also shows one of the widest-ever gaps between the two main political parties.

While self-identified Democrats are more likely to favor Israel over the Palestinians (43 percent to 29 percent), they are far less sympathetic toward Israel than either Republicans or Independents. Among self-identified Republicans, 75 percent say they sympathize more with Israel compared to 7 percent sympathizing more for the Palestinians. Among Independents, the sympathies are 52 percent with Israel and 19 percent with the Palestinians.

The new data is part of a telephone survey of more than 4,000 American adults between April 4 and 24 in which Pew surveyors asked respondents a range of questions about how they view the U.S. role in the world.

Among Americans overall, 54 percent say they sympathize more with Israel and 19 percent sympathize more with the Palestinians, with 13 percent saying with neither side and 3 percent with both. Compared to a similar survey conducted in July 2014, sympathy for Israel held steady while sympathy for the Palestinians jumped by one-third, to 19 percent today from 14 percent in the earlier survey.

Among liberal Democrats, the least pro-Israel grouping, more respondents say they are sympathetic toward the Palestinians than toward Israel: 40 percent vs. 33 percent. While the pro-Israel figure has held steady, the pro-Palestinian figure is the largest it has been in 15 years, suggesting that sympathy for the Palestinians is growing among these Americans who previously did not favor one side over the other.

Self-identified conservative Democrats and moderate Democrats favor Israel by a margin of 53 percent for Israel to 19 percent for the Palestinians.

Supporters of Hillary Clinton are more likely to favor Israel over the Palestinians (47 percent to 27 percent), while backers of Sen. Bernie Sanders, an Independent of Vermont, are more likely to favor the Palestinians (39 percent to 33 percent for Israel).

On the Republican side, conservative Republicans favor Israel somewhat more than moderate and liberal Republicans do (79 percent vs. 65 percent).

The survey shows older Americans overwhelmingly favoring Israel over the Palestinians by a 4-to-1 margin, and Gen-Xers sympathizing with Israel more by roughly a 3-to-1 margin.

There is more optimism among Americans that a two-state solution can be achieved by the Israelis and Palestinians than skepticism that it cannot: 50 percent compared to 42 percent. On this, Americans younger than 30 are more optimistic (60 percent believe in the two-state solution) than Americans over 65 (49 percent say it’s impossible). About 61 percent of Democrats say they believe a Palestinian state can coexist peacefully beside Israel, compared to 38 percent of Republicans.

Overall, Americans are more convinced now than they were in August 2014, in the wake of the last Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, that a two-state solution is possible.

On other issues in the survey, 57 percent of respondents say they want America to deal with its own problems and let other countries sort out their problems on their own, while 37 percent say America should help other countries. Respondents identified ISIS as the top global threat facing America, followed by cyberattacks from other countries, the rapid spread of infectious diseases and refugees from the Middle East.

The largest partisan gap on the threat matrix was on the issue of climate change: 77 percent of Democrats identified it as a leading global threat compared to 26 percent of Republicans.

There is a sharp partisan divide on the question of how best to defeat global terrorism: 70 percent of Republicans say overwhelming military force is the best approach, while 65 percent of Democrats say that just creates more hatred and terrorism.

Boomers can lend credit score to boomerang kids


Money is the main reason 26 percent of American millennials boomerang back home to live with their baby boomer parents, and why so many other millennials rely on parental assistance long after college graduation.

About 63 percent of all millennials don’t have a major credit card and more than 86 percent of those seeking loans are declined or charged sky-high interest rates. That leaves millennials hard-pressed to build a credit history and declare financial independence from Mom and Dad.

The founders of the Israeli company Backed say they have a solution that benefits both generations.

By reinventing the co-signing process and using machine-learning algorithms cooked up in the company’s Tel Aviv R&D center, Backed’s online platform allows parents (“Backers”) to lend their credit history to their children in order to help them secure a loan at attractive rates.

Already up and running in New York, New Jersey, Florida, West Virginia and Arkansas — the five states that do not require a lender’s license — Backed recently raised $1.5 million in seed funding toward a national rollout by the end of 2016. Vice President and co-founder Gilad Woltsovitch explained how Backed will achieve that goal by partnering with federally insured banks in the other 45 states to administer the loans originated on the Backed website.

Woltsovitch said that taking co-signing risks out of the equation is among the unique aspects of Backed.

“Other lenders approve or decline, period. We’re the only ones that have a progressive loan application. You qualify if you have a Backer who qualifies, and you can optimize your [interest] rate by adding another Backer or connecting with other accounts. What’s also unusual is that we digitized the whole co-signing experience,” he said.

Backed’s novel risk model is another factor that differentiates it from competitors (such as Upstart) in the loans-for-millennials space.

“Ordinarily, co-signers are exposed to the risk of having to pay the whole amount if the loan defaults,” Woltsovitch said. “Traditionally, they are notified after the default when there are already accumulated fees and penalties, and by that time the child’s and parents’ credit scores are damaged.

“We offer Backers the opportunity to control the status of the loan. The moment there is a failed payment, both borrower and Backer are notified and have 15 days to pay the missing amount without any penalty. If there’s an ongoing problem, Backers can jump in and cover the missing amount before the credit bureau finds out about it.”

Like many Israeli startups, Backed has a personal backstory. In this case, it was Woltsovitch’s experience in the American credit market as a non-U.S. citizen.

Arriving in the United States in 2008 after earning his master’s degree in art sciences in Holland, Woltsovitch soon had a steady income and savings. Yet without any credit history, he was forced to pay a lot of money up front for an apartment and was subject to higher fees and rates on loans.

“That is how I encountered the problem with the credit system and how it’s challenging to kick-start your credit record,” he said.

That year, a worldwide financial crisis resulted in regulatory measures that severely limited access to unsecured loans and credit cards even for young adults with U.S. citizenship. In 2013, Woltsovitch and Israeli venture capitalist Kfir Moyal started the research that led to co-founding Backed in mid-2014. 

“We saw a huge boom in online lending, but about 90 percent of applicants are rejected for credit,” Woltsovitch said. “Then we learned about peer-to-peer lending. We really like emerging industries and we wanted to see where there was space for optimization and improving conversion rates.

“That is where we came up with [the] idea of [a] parent lending kids their credit score rather than cash. We believe this solution helps both sides because it allows kids to build a credit history and relieves the financial burden on parents.”

With its headquarters in New York and its R&D in the WeWork co-working space in Tel Aviv, Backed plans to allocate about half its new cash infusion to further developing its product and employee base, and half to customer acquisition and revenue growth.

The future of Federation takes the stage


At 33, London-born Ben Winston, the executive producer of “The Late Late Show With James Corden,” is the youngest showrunner in the history of late-night television. 

He is charming, quick-witted and has ties to One Direction — the full package. But what keeps things running smoothly outside of work for a man succeeding in such a cutthroat industry? 

“Growing up, my father worked long hours in a laboratory. But no matter what, he was always home for Shabbat. That type of consistency really grounded us,” Winston told over 400 Jewish young professionals who packed the Fonda Theatre on Dec. 1. “I still observe Shabbat to this day. It makes my life better. It makes my marriage better. 

“We think in this business we’re the most important people in the world. But when I turn off my phone on Friday, I’m not thinking about the business. I’m with my wife and our dog. We don’t have kids yet.”

Winston joined an impressive lineup of speakers from the entertainment and high-tech worlds as part of MainStage 2015, The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles’ first fundraiser for 20- and 30-somethings. 

Speakers included Mitch Hurwitz, creator of the TV series “Arrested Development”; Sean Rad, founder and CEO of the dating app Tinder; Susanne Daniels, head of original content at YouTube; Ben Silverman, former co-chairman of NBC Entertainment; and Ben Maddahi, a music manager/producer behind the hits of some of the world’s biggest pop stars. Comedian Ben Gleib, who emceed proceedings, quipped about being the least successful Ben onstage. 

Jay Sanderson, Federation president and CEO, told the Journal the event represented an evolution in the organization.

“This is the Federation of today. This isn’t your grandfather’s Federation of yesterday,” he said. “One of our top priorities is engaging young Jews in Jewish life. We want events associated with the Federation to be cool for young people.”

The event’s price tag, with tickets starting at $75, didn’t deter the noticeably youthful crowd, dispelling the notion that millenials don’t give back — $50 of each ticket went directly to Federation. Event chairs Shahrad Nahai and Marlyse Phlaum spoke to the crowd about the group’s work to provide scholarships for teens to visit Israel, home and health care assistance for Holocaust survivors, and Federation’s work locally with the Black and Latino communities. 

Mitch Hamerman, Federation’s senior vice president of campaign management and communications, said the event netted $20,000 in donations from ticket sales. “Our current mindset is to do it again next year,” he said.

Silverman, the first speaker of the night, was visibly touched by the turnout and spirit of the event. “The Federation has been such a huge part of so many of our lives. It’s so great to see people here to give back,” he said. 

One of the key creative forces behind hit     NBC shows such as “The Office,” Silverman captivated Dunder Mifflin fans by detailing the iconic comedy’s path from initial conceit all the way to air. He concluded his time onstage by imploring storytellers in attendance to not shy away from their Jewish heritage in their work. 

“We wrote the oldest book in the history of the world and now we find ourselves losing our narrative. I mean, who will write and make the next ‘Exodus’?” Silverman asked of the crowd, referencing the 1958 Leon Uris novel, eventually adapted into the 1960 film starring Paul Newman.

The evening had special significance for Gleib, a frequent contributor on “Chelsea Lately,” who now has his own show called “Idiotest” on GSNTV. 

“Tonight was really cool for me — just honored to be asked to be here,” the normally dry, sarcastic comic told the Journal. “I’m someone who normally likes to operate separate from religion. This was one of the first times I’ve really felt like a part of the Jewish community. Besides, all those guys who were onstage with me are doing stuff I love and want to do one day. It was pretty awesome.” 

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