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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Can Israel take the support of US conservatives for granted?

Here's an interesting take on Republican support for Israel from Oded Eran and Owen Alterman (yes, I am swamped with work).
To a large extent, the new winds in the Republican electorate on the wider anti-terror issues have not touched candidates’ stances on policy toward Israel, and Republican candidates continue to criticize Obama as not supportive enough. Most of the Republican candidates have vied with each other for the position of most outspoken supporter of Israel.

Still, for Israel, the new attitudes among Republicans portend a shift. For the past decade, Israel’s outreach efforts in the United States have relied on forging a connection in the campaign against terrorism. Israel’s leaders have become accustomed to declare, in the words of Prime Minister Netanyahu in his address before Congress in 2011, “We stand together to fight terrorism.” With at least part of the US electorate that connection worked, as terrorism was at the forefront of public concerns and how to approach the terrorism issue was at the forefront of the public debate. Especially in the years after 9/11, much of the US public supported a hawkish response to radical Islam; in that context, Israel was right to sell itself as a logical
partner in that fight.

With the changing public mood in the US, however, the anti-terrorism mantras may have become jaded and worn. Even among Republicans, the “war on terror” has faded as a call to arms. If trends in US public opinion continue, Israel will need to change its message to US politicians and to the American public. Fortunately, Republican voters who once mentally linked support for Israel with the anti-terrorism issue seem to have found a new (or additional) basis for their pro-Israel views, perhaps through evangelical religious beliefs. Still, Israel’s leaders must not be complacent.

In the short term, Iran may remain the focus, but the life span of that issue depends on the degree of success in putting an end to the nuclear effort. Success, whether resulting from a military operation or diplomacy and sanctions, would be the emblem of US-Israeli cooperation. Anything less might mar relations for years to come, especially given the US public’s unease about Middle Eastern wars.

Israel needs a new message to the American public. In recent years, much outreach has focused on minorities and liberals, as the partisan gap in support for Israel has widened. These efforts should continue. But Israel’s leaders risk a fundamental surprise if they take conservatives’ support for granted. The 2012 campaign might be bringing the first, subtle stirrings of new foreign policy currents among conservatives. For Israel, the lesson is that its message must adjust to suit the new mood and not be hitched too tightly to the anti-terrorist mast.
Read the whole thing.

I'm not sure I buy this. I believe that Israel's relationship with US conservatives is based on values and is much stronger than this article depicts it to be. I wouldn't take that support for granted, but I certainly don't see US conservatives supporting our enemies in the foreseeable future.

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At 1:13 AM, Blogger Sunlight said...

Of course, Israel can count on support from Republican voters. For many reasons. And it sure would be great for it to be a two way street. So if the Israeli consulate people, lefty tech people, etc. helped Obama get elected in '08 and are helping now, then other Israelis need to speak up twice as loud. Maybe make it an issue in Israeli electoral politics.

BTW, the way they would have helped in '08 is, as they did, to run around raving about the greatness of Obama, even after he withdrew his AIPAC speech. And, since there are probably less than 6 mil voting age Jews in the U.S., the actual vote is not the key, except in a few places. It is the $$ political donations that make the Jewish "segment" important.

BTW2, Israel Matzav does a great job in this category. No one wants a unitary opinion or advocacy, but if the whole of Israel is in the collectivist marcuse marxist euro new left camp, then I don't know what to think. I guess I would just quit thinking we'd get support for Mark Levin or David Horowitz style constitutional conservatism.

At 3:33 AM, Blogger Juniper in the Desert said...

If Romney choses Rand Paul as his VP, I will feel worried. With Ron Paul like Darth Vader, hiding in the shadows of his son, it may be worse than what we have now, if that is possible.

At 4:06 AM, Blogger Captain.H said...

"I'm not sure I buy this. I believe that Israel's relationship with US conservatives is based on values and is much stronger than this article depicts it to be. I wouldn't take that support for granted, but I certainly don't see US conservatives supporting our enemies in the foreseeable future."

Yup. Well summed up, Carl. America and Israel are natural allies. This is based on multiple levels. There's shared democratic values and a justified perception by a majority of non-liberal Americans that Israel is unique in the ME with these shared values.

Ironically, it's Pat Condell, the conservative staunchly democrat-minded Brit whose videos Carl has sometimes posted, who summed it up so articulately. "In the Middle East, Israel shines like a diamond in a sea of mud." This is based solely on social and political values, as Condell is stridently secular, bashing religion in general and Judaism and Christianity not a whole lot less than he does Islam.

Then, there's the spiritual aspect. From a religious standpoint, many Christian Americans, such as myself, see the Jewish nation of Israel as spiritual brothers to whom we owe steadfast support. We believe not only in "American exceptionalism" but also in "Jewish State of Israel exceptionalism".

What we can't forget is that our enemies, foreign and domestic, are relentless in their attacks. We must be also, in speaking out and doing all that serves to strengthen the alliance between our nations, our peoples.

At 9:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The biggest factor alienating US conservatives from their support for Israel is Israel's own looney leftist liberal policies, whether they're carried out by Netanyahu or Barak or similar.

At 8:57 PM, Blogger Sunlight said...

Shy Guy, yup.


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