Jewish Right To Israel

Jewish Right To Israel
Jewish Right To Palestine (click on image)

Monday, April 12, 2010

More On The Increased Support For Israel Among Republicans--And Not Democrats

Jeff Jacoby writes about the February Gallup poll that indicates that support for Israel in the US is still strong--and notes the what else can be gleaned from the numbers:
But look at the disparity that emerges when those results are sorted by party affiliation. While support for Israel vs. the Palestinians has climbed to a stratospheric 85 percent among Republicans, the comparable figure for Democrats is an anemic 48 percent. (It was 60 percent for independents.) And behind Israel’s “Top 5’’ favorability rating lies a gaping partisan rift: 80 percent of Republicans — but just 53 percent of Democrats — have positive feelings about the world’s only Jewish country.


Similarly, it is true that 333 US House members, a hefty bipartisan majority, endorsed the robustly pro-Israel Hoyer-Cantor letter to Clinton. But there were only seven Republicans who declined to sign the letter, compared with 91 Democrats — more than a third of the entire Democratic caucus...
And according to Jacoby, Gallup is not the only one to have found evidence of this disparity between Republican and Democratic support for Israel--
From Zogby International, meanwhile, comes still more proof of the widening gulf between the major parties on the subject of Israel. In a poll commissioned by the Arab American Institute last month, respondents were asked whether Obama should “steer a middle course’’ in the Middle East — code for not clearly supporting Israel. “There is a strong divide on this question,’’ Zogby reported, “with 73 percent of Democrats agreeing that the President should steer a middle course while only 24 percent of Republicans hold the same opinion.’’
Again, while Republican leaders may feel satisfaction at these results and the prospects for gains in the next election by attracting more Jewish voters--this polarization between the 2 parties is not good for Israel.

It is not a good thing for support for Israel to break down on party lines. That has not been the case historically. As noted earlier, in 1991, three founders of the Republican Jewish Coalition — Max Fisher, George Klein, and Dick Fox — penned a letter to then President George H.W. Bush strongly protesting the cutoff of loan guarantees as a lever to get (yes, nearly two decades and not much has changed) Israel to knuckle under at the bargaining table (then it was Madrid). It is the bipartisan support for Israel in Congress and in the United States at large which has been critical to the maintainence of a robust and warm alliance between the two countries. That it is fraying now, when the most critical national-security threat to both (Iran’s nuclear ambitions) looms large, is especially troubling. And that, in the statements from pro-Israel Republicans, AIPAC, the ADL, and others, is what the administration is being asked to focus on. But then, they have no solution or game plan — it seems — on Iran. So beating up on Israel passes the time and excuses, in their own mind, the inactivity on that most critical issue.
A bipartisan coalition in support of Israel, in which stated principles trump partisan loyalty and political convenience, has been the cornerstone of the U.S.-Israel relationship. We are reminded now that for a president to enthusiastically lead, rather than decimate, that coalition is essential. What’s indispensible is a U.S.president who does more than mouth platitudes about our enduring relationship with the Jewish state. What is needed is a president who does not adopt the rhetoric and the bargaining posture of  intransigent Palestinians waiting for the U.S. to deliver Israel on a platter. Can our relationship survive without such a president? We are regrettably going to find out.
The problem is that despite campaign promises to the contrary, bi-partisan support of anything during the Obama administration is not being consistently supported.

[Hat tip: Shmuel Rosner]

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