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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Bipartisan support for Israel?

In the JPost blog pages, Alan Dershowitz goes after Melanie Phillips:
Melanie Phillips has written a critique of me because I remain a Democrat and continue to support President Barack Obama, despite his recent statements regarding expansion of Israeli settlements and other matters relating to the Middle East conflict. Other conservative supporters of Israel have joined her in attacking me as well. See e.g., Jonathan Tobin. This is how she put it:
But just like the majority of American Jews, getting on for 80 per cent of whom voted for Obama, he is a Democrat supporter who is incapable of acknowledging the truth about this President. For most American Jews, the horror of even entertaining the hypothetical possibility that they might ever in a million years have to vote for a Republican is so great they simply cannot see what is staring them in the face -- that this Democratic President is lethal for both Israel and the free world."
She accuses me of being "blind" and says "he doesn't get it."

Oh, I get it alright. I just fundamentally disagree with her approach, especially when it comes to the United States.

Phillips, for all her good work in Great Britain on behalf of Israel, has absolutely no understanding of American politics. She would turn Israel into a wedge issue, in which Republicans were seen as the supporters of Israel and Democrats as its enemy.
It's not Melanie Philips who doesn't get it - it's Dershowitz. He can't see that support for Israel is already a 'wedge issue' between Democrats and Republicans. He can't see that many of those Democrats who 'only oppose the settlements' really oppose Israel entirely or are at least indifferent to its existence. And he can't see that Democratic support for Israel is far lower than Republican support.

This is from a post I did nearly three years ago.
In the last eight years, the Democratic party has veered sharply to the left. Organizations like MoveOn.org and blogs like DailyKos and Huffington Post are only a small part of a radicalization of the Democratic party that includes the rise to prominence of the likes of Cindy Sheehan and Al Sharpton. The radical left has gained a strong influence on the party - the only time that comes to mind in which the radical influence on the Democratic party was anywhere near as strong is the late 1960's. The Internet has spread that radical mindset through the core of the Democratic party. (If you question that statement, follow some of the links above). Much of the Jewish community - especially the 'organized' Jewish community for whom the Democratic party has always been a comfortable place - is trying to pretend that the Democractic party is still the party of Lyndon Johnson and Scoop Jackson (for whom I campaigned in 1976). But it's not.

For me personally, this came home with the defeat of Senator Joe Lieberman in the Democratic primary in Connecticut by radical leftist Ned Lamont. Although I have voted Republican several times, I have never felt as uncomfortable with the Democratic party as I have felt since that primary. Jimmy Carter could be dismissed as a bitter one-term President. Lamont's ideological hold on the Democratic party (along with that of George Soros and Michael Moore and others) cannot be dismissed.
The polls consistently show less support for Israel among Democrats than among Republicans. Here's an example from Operation Cast Lead.
Thirty-five percent (35%) of Americans say they are following news stories about Israel’s military action in the Gaza Strip Very Closely, with another 41% saying they are following somewhat closely. Only four percent (4%) say they are not following the news at all.
Not surprisingly - at least to me - Republicans favor Israel much more than Democrats.
Sixty-two percent (62%) of Republicans back Israel’s decision to take military action against the Palestinians, but only half as many Democrats (31%) agree. [But that won't stop the 'Judaism is liberalism' crowd from voting Democratic in the next election. CiJ] A majority of Democrats (55%) say Israel should have tried to find a diplomatic solution first, a view shared by just 27% of Republicans. ['Diplomatic solution'? What the heck have we been trying to do for the last 80 years? How many times have the Arabs - going back to before there was any such creature as a 'Palestinian' - said no? What 'diplomatic solution' do they think we can reach with Hamas? Do they know how Islam views 'diplomatic solutions'? CiJ]

While 75% of Republicans say Israel is an ally of the United States, just 55% of Democrats agree. Seven percent (7%) of Democrats say Israel is an enemy of America, but only one percent (1%) of Republicans say the same. For 21% of Republicans, Israel is somewhere in between, and 28% of Democrats agree.
And here's another poll on whether the US should help Israel if it attacks Iran.
The poll finds that 46% of Americans do not believe that the US should help Israel if it attacks Iran, while only 42% believe that it should. This is despite the fact that 78% of Americans believe that Iran is attempting to acquire nuclear weapons. And surprise: it apparently splits along party lines: Forty-two percent (42%) of Americans say that if Israel launches an attack against Iran, the United States should help Israel. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 46% believe the United States should do nothing while just 1% believe the U.S. should help Iran.

A separate survey released last week showed that 78% of Americans believe it’s likely that Iran will soon develop nuclear weapons. Only 43% believe it’s possible for the U.S. to prevent that development.

Most Republicans say the U.S. should help Israel while most Democrats and unaffiliated voters say the U.S. should do nothing.

Fifty-two percent (52%) of all voters say that preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons is more important than preventing war between Iran and Israel. Republicans overwhelmingly hold this view while Democrats are evenly divided. Among unaffiliated voters, 50% say that stopping Iran’s nuclear program is more important while 29% say

Just 8% believe the Iranian government’s claim that its nuclear enrichment program is to generate energy, not weapons. A Rasmussen Reports survey last month found 45% of likely voters agreed with Obama that it was a good idea for the U.S. president to meet with the leader of Iran, but 59% said the meeting should not take place until Iran stops developing nuclear weapons.
Yes, I know, these are polls on issues and not on "do you love Israel?" But issues matter for Israel, and the continued Democratic reluctance to endorse any right of self-defense for Israel can only be interpreted as a lack of support.

Martin Luther King is known to have said that non-Jews who criticize Israel are usually doing so out of latent anti-Semitism. Sorry, Alan. Israel is already a 'wedge issue' in the United States. If you think you can change that, I'm all in favor.


Melanie Phillips responds to Dershowitz here.


At 9:26 PM, Blogger biorabbi said...

Sad, but so true. The anti-war movement within the democratic party is riddled with anti-semitism. The is the youth, the future of the democratic party. I voted for Obama and supported him, and I deeply regret it. More every day.

At 10:41 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

If Alan Dershowitz can get the Democratic Party to change how it sees Israel, I would very much like to see it happen. The truth is though that old school liberals like him are no longer representative of the Left in America today.


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