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    Increasing partisan gap in support for Israel reflects 15-year leftist shift in Democratic Party

    Increasing partisan gap in support for Israel reflects 15-year leftist shift in Democratic Party

    Liberal Democrats’ decreasing support for Israel mirrors decreasing pride in being American

    Pew Research released a survey today showing, in Pew’s words:

    The partisan divide in Middle East sympathies, for Israel or the Palestinians, is now wider than at any point since 1978. Currently, 79% of Republicans say they sympathize more with Israel than the Palestinians, compared with just 27% of Democrats.

    The gap is particularly strong among liberal Democrats:

    The share of liberal Democrats who sympathize more with Israel than the Palestinians has declined from 33% to 19% since 2016. Currently, nearly twice as many liberal Democrats say they sympathize more with the Palestinians than with Israel (35% vs. 19%); 22% of liberal Democrats sympathize with both sides or neither side and 24% do not offer an opinion.

    The results are being met with glee from anti-Israel activists, and with horror by Israel supporters. The blame is being laid on Trump’s strong support for Israel and close relationship with Bibi Netanyahu.

    While Trump might contribute to liberals past year decline in sympathies for Israel, the fact is that liberal Democrats sympathizing less with Israel is over a 15 year trend.

    We have covered that trend in many prior posts, including both Pew and Gallup surveys. The February 2017 Gallup survey showed continued strong support for Israel:

    I’ll be interested to see the annual Gallup survey, which usually is released in February, and includes more data on undecided voters. In past Gallup surveys the decline in Democrat support had been more than offset by growth in Republican and Independents.

    That the Trump factor is overstated is demonstrated by Pew Surveys dating back a decade. For example:

    Pew May 23, 2016:

    Views of Israel and the Palestinians have become more ideologically polarized. In early September 2001, just before the 9/11 terrorist attacks, there were only modest partisan and ideological differences in Israeli-Palestinian sympathies. But since then, and especially over the past decade, the share sympathizing more with Israel than with the Palestinians has increased among all ideological groups, with the exception of liberal Democrats. 

    Today, majorities of conservative Republicans (79%) and moderate and liberal Republicans (65%) say they sympathize more with Israel than with the Palestinians, while just 4% and 13%, respectively, sympathize more with the Palestinians. This is the case for conservative and moderate Democrats as well – far more have a more sympathetic view of Israel (53%) than of the Palestinians (19%). Liberal Democrats, however, are more divided, with four-in-ten (40%) sympathizing more with the Palestinians, versus a third (33%) with Israel.

    The share of liberal Democrats who side more with the Palestinians than with Israel has nearly doubled since 2014 (from 21% to 40%) and is higher than at any point dating back to 2001.

    Pew May 5, 2016:

    Over the past decade, the share of Americans saying they sympathize more with Israel has grown among most ideological groups – with the exception of liberal Democrats….

    There also are generational differences in sympathies in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Older generations tend to be more sympathetic toward Israel than younger generations.

    Pew July 19, 2006:

    In surveys taken by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, sympathy for Israel over the Palestinians has ranged from highs of 48% in September 1997 and May 2006, to a low of 37% in July 2005. During this period the number of those saying they sympathized most with the Palestinians in their dispute with Israel never rose above the 21% recorded in September 1993.

    Pew, January 19, 2006:

    The gap between conservatives and liberals is much wider than it was in 2001, but the differences between moderates and liberals have increased as well. Moderates and liberals were about equally likely to sympathize with Israel in 2001; currently, 50% of moderates say they sympathize more with Israel than with the Palestinians, compared with 33% of liberals.

    Partisan differences in Middle East opinions also have grown dramatically since 2001. Nearly seven-in-ten Republicans (69%) now say they sympathize more with Israel than the Palestinians; just 42% of Democrats agree. In early September 2001, 50% of Republicans sympathized more with Israel, compared with 38% of Democrats.

    As can be seen from these excerpts, declining Democrat sympathy for Israel is a long term trend dating back approximately to 2001.  That year, of course, was the 9/11 attack and subsequent invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

    Along with declining liberal Democrat sympathy for Israel has been declining Democrat, particularly liberal Democrat, pride in being American.

    As Aaron Blake at The Washington Post wrote in July 2014, reflecting Pew polling, Proud to be an American? You’re probably not a true liberal.

    Michelle Obama took some heat in 2008 for saying that, “for the first time in my adult life I am proud of my country…”

    As it turns out, that sentiment isn’t all that unusual on the far left of American politics. According to a new Pew Research Center study, only 40 percent of consistently liberal Americans say they often feel proud to be Americans.

    The other 60 percent say that doesn’t describe them.

    The finding is contained in Pew’s new “Political Typology” report, which breaks Americans down into seven different categories — rather than the usual three. Among the seven categories, “solid liberals” are the only group in which a majority say they aren’t regularly proud to be Americans….

    The poll also shows many liberals don’t liken themselves to your average American. Just 51 percent say they feel as though they are “typical Americans” — as compared to three-quarters of conservatives and at least two-thirds of all the other groups.

    Those findings were during the Obama presidency, so Trump hardly can be blamed for declining Democrat pride in being American.

    Gallup polling found similar results in April 2017, which show a Democrat decline starting in 2013 and accelerating recently, Sharply Fewer Democrats Say They Are Proud to Be Americans:

    So what’s going on here?

    I don’t diminish the significance of these findings. I’ve said for years that the erosion of support for Israel among liberal, particularly self-identified young progressives, is real and should be addressed.

    It is, in part, the result of two decades of extreme anti-Israel activism on campuses led by professors, and the BDS movement. The BDS movement readily describes boycotts as a “tactic,” not the end goal. They don’t really care about whether people buy Israeli products and interact with Israelis. What matters is that Israel be cast in a negative light, and connected through the “intersectionality” theory to other problems around the world.  This is a generation-long propaganda campaign, and will take time to counter.

    But it’s more than about Israel. It’s about a Democratic Party shifting hard left at its base. With that shift comes shrinking “sympathy” for Israel and shrinking pride in being American.


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    As the Democratic party moves further and further to the left, it will be becoming more and more anti-Israel. Leftist dogmas dictate that in any conflict between a western society (and Israel is viewed as such) against a non-western one the former is always in the wrong; in any conflict between a lighter-skinned people vs darker-skinned people, again, the former is always wrong; in any conflict between a more prosperous society and a poorer one, the former is always in the wrong; in any conflict between a side with a stronger military against the one with a weaker military, the same – the former is always in the wrong. Just by virtue of being who they are, not because of anything anyone has done. Just another form of identity politics.

    At some point, in not too distant future, the leaders of the Democratic party will be embracing (figuratively and literally) the leaders of Hamas and Hezbollah. It will be interesting to hear the excuses of the leftist American Jews then.

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