Supporting Sharon's position, majorities of American Jews think Israel is right to insist on complete cessation of all violence before negotiations can begin (59 percent to 15 percent), and to refuse to deal with Arafat as a negotiating partner (56 percent to 12 percent).

In contrast with Sharon, American Jews oppose the continued expansion of housing in existing settlements, even to accommodate natural growth (25 percent in favor, 33 percent opposed, 42 percent unsure). At the same time, they oppose removing settlements in Gaza, even without a peace agreement (14 percent versus 42 percent). They split evenly (29 percent/29 percent) on whether settlements constitute an obstacle to peace, and lean toward viewing them as strategic assets that help make Israel safer (34 percent agree, 21 percent disagree, with 45 percent not sure). These views on settlements would place the center of American Jewish opinion toward the right of the Israeli political map.

Washington's Role

Wherever they may fall with respect to settlements or Israel's handling of the conflict, American Jews want Washington to refrain from pressuring Israel. While they say they want Washington "to remain fairly even-handed so as to maintain reasonably good ties with both Israel and the Palestinians" (47 percent to 19 percent), they also want America to avoid all forms of pressure on the Israeli government (37 percent in favor, 25 percent opposed, and 39 percent not sure).

Hawks or Doves?

The analysis used answers to several questions to classify respondents as hawks, doves, mixed (both hawkish and dovish views), or ambivalent (many not sure answers). Not surprisingly more dovish views were found among the more highly educated and more liberal (whether defined in terms of self-identification, Democratic allegiance, previous vote for Gore, or prospective vote for Lieberman).

Overall, women are slightly more hawkish than men (consistent with findings from the 1980s). However, when controlling for education, women are more dovish than their male counterparts with equal levels of education, since men overall have attained higher levels of educational achievement.

The hawk-dove balance follows a familiar denominational gradient. Orthodox Jews are the most hawkish, followed by the Conservative Jews, Reform and the small number of Reconstructionists, who are the most dovish religious group, but are outflanked on the left by self-identified secular Jews.

Other measures of Jewish involvement are unrelated to the hawk-dove spectrum, however. Most important, higher levels of communal affiliation and Israel visits do not lead to greater hawkishness, as some might assume.

Last, consistent with the greater political conservatism reported last week, younger adult Jews are more hawkish than their elders. It appears they would be even more hawkish were it not for their higher levels of educational attainment.

The events of the past two years have shaken American Jews' views of the Middle East, if not their feelings toward Israel. Most remain emotionally attached to Israel and supportive of its policies and actions. Most want a strong alliance between Israel and America. There is, however, an ambivalence in American Jews' relationship with Israel today.

The ambivalence stems at least partly from a heightened sense of Israel's vulnerability.

More than four-fifths of American Jews, 82 percent, see their own community as "critical to Israel's survival." But only 58 percent, fewer than three in five, see Israel as "critical to sustaining American Jewish life." Not surprising, when fully 63 percent emphatically believe that Israel is "a dangerous place to visit."