The left-wing hostility appears limited to the left-wing.
For several years we have been examining Gallup and Pew surveys of attitudes among Americans of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. What we have seen is a trend of overall support for Israel reaching all-time or near-all-time highs.
At the same time, there is a slice of the population in which the support has been slipping — the left-wing of the Democratic Party.
That makes sense based on a number of trends we post about unrelated to polling: The intensive global push, particularly on campuses, to demonize Israel; “intersectionality” theory which makes Israel the central antagonist in the racial and identity politics of the progressive movement; the identification of Israel with capitalism which increasingly itself is demonized among the socialist-friendly section of the Democratic Party that supported Bernie Sanders.
Even as to more mainstream Democrats, Obama’s hostility towards Israel and the fights he has picked since the start of his administration, his refocus on outreach to the Muslim world, and the blame he and John Kerry clearly place on Israel, all have served to create a partisan divide. The Iran Nuclear deal broke that tension wide open, causing many Democrats to rally around Obama.
Pew just released another survey on views of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, as part of a larger survey on American views of the world as Trump takes office. It’s unfortunately short on many analytical details, but it has enough to generate this Pew headline at WaPo: For the first time, Democrats are about as pro-Palestinian as pro-Israel:
Pew’s new data also show unprecedented polarization when it comes to another top foreign policy issue:Israel. Similar numbers of Republicans and Democrats have sympathized more with Israel than with the Palestinians dating back to the late 1970s. Today, though, 74 percent of Republicans sympathize more with Israel, while just 33 percent of Democrats do the same.
And perhaps most notably, for the first time this century — if not ever — Democrats are now about equally split between
sympathizing more with Israel (33 percent) and with the Palestinians (31 percent).
The change across the political spectrum is clear when you look at the chart below. The biggest shifts over the last 15 years have
occurred among conservative Republicans, who have drifted toward a more proIsrael view, and liberal Democrats, who have
drifted more toward the Palestinians. The most politically polarized are driving the change.
While conservative Republicans favored Israel by a 44point margin in 2001, the margin is now 70 points. And while liberal
Democrats favored Israel by 30 points at the turn of the century, they now favor the Palestinians by 12 points.
The causes could be many. Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu and President Obama haven’t exactly been buddies, and
Pew’s data shows Democrats’ views of Netanyahu are pretty dim. Perhaps that has depressed support for Israel among
There could have been a different and equally accurate headline: Americans still overwhelmingly side with Israel (other than liberal Democrats).
If you look at the chart below, you’ll see that support for Israel versus the Palestinians stands at 51-19, versus 45-14 in 1978, and an even narrower gap in the mid-1990s. Overall support for Israel has steadily increased for over a decade, whereas it has been flat for the Palestinians until the past two years, where it returned to mid-1990s levels. So overall, Americans support Israel over the Palestinians by more than 2.5-1. That is lower than Gallup showed in February 2016 (62-15) but consistent with Pews prior polling. I’ll be curious to see what Gallup shows in a month or so.
Here is Pew’s analysis of the partisan divide, which is wide:
For the first time in Pew Research Center surveys, Democrats are about as likely to say they sympathize more with the Palestinians (31%) than with Israel (33%); 11% say they sympathize with neither, while 8% sympathize with both and 17% do not offer an opinion. The share of Democrats who say they sympathize more with Israel is down 10 points from April 2016. The share who say they sympathize more with the Palestinians is little changed from last April (29%), but is up significantly from July 2014 when just 17% said they sympathized more with the Palestinians.
By contrast, Republicans continue to overwhelmingly say they sympathize more with Israel (74%) than the Palestinians (11%). There has been little movement in views among Republicans in recent years, but the share who say they sympathize more with Israel is now higher than in the mid-2000s and prior. For example, in 2005, 57% of Republicans said they sympathized more with Israel in their dispute with the Palestinians.
As a result of these trends, there is now a 41-point gap between the shares of Republicans (74%) and Democrats (33%) who say they sympathize more with Israel. This is the largest party gap in views on this question in surveys dating to 1978.
Among liberal Democrats, a greater share now say they sympathize more with the Palestinians (38%) than with Israel (26%). Liberal Democrats are the only demographic or political group for which a larger share sympathizes more with the Palestinians than with Israel. By contrast, a greater share of conservative and moderate Democrats say they sympathize more with Israel (42%) than the Palestinians (25%). However, the share of conservative and moderate Democrats who say they sympathize more with Israel is down 11 points since April 2016.
Nearly eight-in-ten (78%) conservative Republicans say they sympathize more with Israel than the Palestinians. A somewhat smaller majority of moderate and liberal Republicans (64%) also sympathizes more with Israel.
Clearly, liberal Democrats are the most hostile to Israel.
This demonstrates what I have long argued with regard to the BDS movement — the battles have been mostly won. The war, however, is generational. When you listen to anti-Israel activists, their hope is that 10-20-30 years from now an anti-Israel center of power will develop in the American public among “progressives” and liberal Democrats. That could happen, but there is no evidence so far it is spreading to the American public as a whole.
As the Democratic Party has become more leftist, more radical, more away from the mainstream, Democrats have been eviscerated at the state level, and have lost Congress and the presidency. There may be an anti-Israel power center developing within the left-wing of the Democratic Party, but it is unlikely to have any power anytime soon.DONATE
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