Sunday, January 23, 2011

To My Fellow Jews...

Speak with any Jew who has come out of the "conservative closet" and they will almost certainly tell you about the consternation that this caused among their friends and family. In some cases they would receive a more positive response if they told them that they had contracted leprosy.

"Oy vey, how can you support those red necks and bible thumpers?!?"

While a politician's or party's position on Israel need not be a major factor in the voting decision of my liberal Jewish compatriots, they should take note that support for Israel is waning among Democrats. These trends are starkly revealed in a recent Zogby poll that found:

92% of Republicans have a favorable opinion of Israel, as opposed to 42% of Democrats.

84% of Republicans have a favorable opinion towards President Netanyahu, whereas only 20% of Democrats do.

72% of Democrats say that the US should get tough with Israel, whereas only 14% of Republicans share those sentiments.

The results of a Gallup poll were more muted, but demonstrated similar trends showing that among conservative and religious Americans the support for Israel was the highest.

Some progressive Jews have become extremely hostile to Israel, whereas others have been put in the uncomfortable position of only diverging from their progressive compatriots on this one issue. They should take note that the same irrational analytical processes and philosophical inclinations that drive so many on the left to hate Israel, underline other progressive political and economic positions. Like it or not, Israel's future is more secure with Conservatives, Republicans and the "dreaded" Religious Right.

The Way We'll Be

U.S. Parties Split On Israeli Policy

By John Zogby, 06.02.10

Republicans are mostly pro-Israel; Democrats are on the fence, isolating their Jewish voters.

This week's flare-up involving an Israeli raid and ensuing casualties on a Turkish ship en route to Gaza shows how torn the new Democratic coalition is on Israeli policy toward Palestinians. Near unanimity for a pro-Israeli policy now resides within the Republican Party. U.S. Jews, a large majority of whom remain liberal to moderate Democrats, have the wrenching choice of staying loyal to a Democratic Party that increasingly questions Israeli policies.

Zogby International has done a great deal of work on U.S. attitudes about Israel and the Middle East. (My brother, James Zogby, is founder and president of the Arab American Institute.) The most recent survey was an in-depth interactive poll of 2,471 adults conducted in mid-March, shortly after a diplomatic brouhaha brought on by Israel's announcement of more West Bank settlements while Vice-President Joe Biden was visiting Israel.

The differences in opinion between Democrats and Republicans are stunning. Seventy-one percent of Republicans want President Barack Obama to lean the U.S. pursuit of Mideast peace in Israel's favor. Among Democrats, 73% want a middle course, and the percentages who want either a pro-Israel or pro-Palestinian policy are nearly equal at just under 10%.

Here are more examples: 92% of Republicans have a favorable attitude toward Israel, compared to 42% of Democrats; 84% of Republicans are favorable toward Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu, compared to 20% of Democrats; 75% of Republicans believe U.S. and Israeli interests are identical compared to 29% of Democrats; 62% of Republicans support the Israelis' building of West Bank settlements and 64% of Democrats oppose it; and 72% of Democrats say the U.S. should get tough with Israel, compared to 14% of Republicans. Perhaps the most startling difference is in the perception of Obama's approach to a peace process, as 84% of Republicans believe his leans in favor of Palestinians, compared to just 12% of Democrats saying that.

On questions relating to Israel and the Palestinians, Democrats are on Neptune and Republicans are on Pluto. However, it is doubtful that this partisan schism will have a dramatic near-term impac

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