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  • October 11, 2010

    Who Are Israel’s Friends in the USA?

    Jennifer Rubin – Commentary

    On Friday, I looked at the results of a new poll surveying voters’ opinions on Israel and, more generally, the Middle East. While Americans remain overwhelmingly pro-Israel and are troubled by Obama’s approach to the Middle East, there are significant differences between sub-groups of Americans. In this post, I’ll focus on the cross-tabs that highlight the differences in attitudes toward Israel among religious groups and those self-described atheists. The full cross-tabs can be found here.

    I’ll begin with a general observation: almost all the support for Israel statistically comes from non-Jews. This is simply a mathematical reality. The poll sampled 1,000 voters, only 1.6 percent of whom were Jewish (slightly below the commonly used 2 percent figure). Fifty-eight percent were Protestant, and 25 percent were Catholic. That means the overwhelming number of those who support Israel, as is the case in the general population, are non-Jews.


    However, this doesn’t mean religion is irrelevant. Take the question as to whether voters favor Israel using military force against Iran if sanctions don’t derail its nuclear program. Overall, 58 percent would approve. That number is 72 percent for Jews but nearly as high for born again Christians (67 percent). Among atheists? It drops to 40 percent. This pattern repeats itself throughout the poll.

    On the question of how concerned we should be about Israel’s security, 100 percent of Jews said “very” or “somewhat.” The lowest/worst response was 88 percent (still high) from atheists, and the second highest/best response again came from born again Christians, with 94 percent.

    On Obama’s handling of our relations with Israel, 52 percent of Jews approve; only atheists, at 61 percent, have a higher approval. Protestants and Catholics rank him in the low 40s, and once again, born-again Christians give him the lowest marks (35 percent). All groups except atheists think by a strong plurality that Obama is harming Israel’s security. If Israel attacked Iran to prevent it from going nuclear, 66 percent of Jews said that would be a “defensive” move. The number for born again Christians is 71 percent.

    This vividly illustrates a point that I and others have made for some time: Jews by themselves are a tiny percentage of the population who, on their own, could not sustain national support for Israel. It is by and large the support from the majority of Christians that nurtures the U.S.-Israel relationship. Protestants and Catholics demonstrate solid support for Israel, while born again Christians consistently are the most critical of Obama and the most supportive of Israel. Although the poll doesn’t ask why respondents believe as they do, it’s fair to conclude that a great number of the most resolute non-Jewish supporters (i.e., born again Christians) do so for religious reasons.

    And what of the other Americans, religious or not? It’s reasonable to conclude that there is a large segment of Americans who, for reasons entirely distinct from religion and with no personal or ethnic tie to the Jewish state, nevertheless are strongly committed to its security and survival. That is remarkable, a tribute the innate decency and common sense of the American people. They have, despite a barrage of propaganda from Israel’s foes, figured out who are the “good guys” in the Middle East and which country shares our values and concerns.

    This data is helpful in rebutting the Israel-haters’s rhetoric railing against the “influence of the Israel lobby.” Their beef is not with Jews (or only with Jews) who support Israel; it is with their countrymen of every faith. For religious reasons or not, the American public hasn’t been swayed by the delegitimizers and Israel-bashers, to the great frustration of those who blame Israel for the woes of the Middle East.

    In the next post on the poll, I will look at the politics of the Israel-supporters and -bashers. No surprise to readers of this blog: Democrats and liberals more generally aren’t the mainstay of support for the Jewish state.

  • Posted by Ted Belman @ 8:58 pm | 11 Comments »

    11 Comments to Who Are Israel’s Friends in the USA?

    1. yamit82 says:

      This poll shows Americans to be supportive of Israel and on most issues they seem to mostly be on the right page with us. I also noticed that there is a strong influence of dislike of Obamas policies in general and the results for Israel and I was enjoying the seeing support Israel was receiving until the two boxed questions. The answers to these two question put the whole poll in question:

      DO YOU APPROVE OR DISAPPROVE OF THE JOB BARACK OBAMA IS DOING HANDLING AMERICA’S RELATIONS WITH ISRAEL?
      APPROVE 43.2
      DISAPPROVE 44.3

      NOW MORE SPECIFICALLY, DO YOU APPROVE OR DISAPPROVE OF THE JOB BARACK OBAMA IS DOING REGARDING AMERICA’S DEFENSE AND
      SECURITY?
      APPROVE 50.8
      DISAPPROVE 44.9

      IF A PALESTINIAN STATE WAS CREATED, DO YOU THINK TERRORISM AGAINST ISRAEL WOULD INCREASE, DECREASE, OR BE UNCHANGED

      INCREASED 25.5
      DECREASED 18.7
      BE UNCHANGED 41.2

      SHOULD JERUSALEM REMAIN AS ISRAEL’S UNDIVIDED CAPITAL IN ANY PEACE AGREEMENT WITH THE PALESTINIANS?
      YES 50.9
      NO 20.4

      I don’t like the wording of this question
      DO YOU AGREE OR DISAGREE WITH EACH OF THE FOLLOWING STATEMENTS?
      “I AM STRONGLY OPPOSED TO THE USE OF MILITARY FORCE BY ISRAEL OR THE UNITED STATES TO ATTACK IRAN.”
      (Net Difference = Agree-Disagree

      AGREE 35.9
      DISAGREE 52.8

      DO YOU AGREE OR DISAGREE WITH THE FOLLOWING STATEMENT?
      “THE ISRAELI-ARAB CONFLICT IS THE KEY TO IMPROVING AMERICA’S STANDING AND INTERESTS IN THE REGION.”

      AGREE 50.6
      DISAGREE 31.8

      WHEN ISRAEL FACES A CONFLICT WITH ITS ENEMIES, DO YOU WANT YOUR ELECTED OFFICIALS TO EXPRESS THEIR SUPPORT FOR ISRAEL,
      OR TO PRESSURE ISRAEL FOR A CEASE-FIRE?
      (Net Difference = Support Isreal-Pressure Isreal)

      SUPPORT ISREAL 42.9
      PRESSURE ISREAL 32.4

    2. Laura says:

      There you go again Yamit, trying to put a negative spin on a poll which shows Americans to be clearly and unequivocally supportive of Israel. There is no ambiguity in this poll, but you manage to nitpick.

    3. yamit82 says:

      There you go again Yamit, trying to put a negative spin on a poll which shows Americans to be clearly and unequivocally supportive of Israel. There is no ambiguity in this poll, but you manage to nitpick.

      Polls show most Americans still like Obama but oppose his policies.

      They are very positive towards Israel but fear Iran more than we seem to here. Yet they approve of the way Obama is is defending America?

      Less than 43 % want their reps to support Israel if we are in a conflict? That does not look like solid support to me and as I said it puts into question at least to me a disconnect between the other positive answers and what it really means to support Israel 43% isn’t bad though.

      You call what I posted nitpicking. I’ve been studying polls for a lot of years this one is comprehensive and gives plenty of data but yet there is a disconnect. All of the questions were on Obama and then Obama Israel and then just Israel. There is a symmetry between answers relating to Obama and answers relating to Israel. I would have preferred to see the polling on Israel as a stand alone.

    4. ReuvenBoruch says:

      I can’t believe that anyone with an ounce of sanity can think that President Obama is treating Israel fairly.

      I’ll say here what I said somewhere else…. I am Jewish & I live in New York City. We have a large Muslim & Arabic popualtion here (NYC is a melting pot.. and there are few if any problems between ethnic groups here).

      If President Obama wants to give up land to the Palistinians, let him set an example offer parts of NYC.
      I’m sure New Yorkers would embrace the idea of Sharia Law taking over for our constitution….

    5. yamit82 says:

      ReuvenBoruch says:
      October 12, 2010 at 12:06 am

      Well we got a 50/50 split with the rest D/K! But over 50 % think he is doing a good job on Defense. That’s scary! They don’t like his domestic policies but approve of his defense policies? Guess they like the way he kisses ass of the Saudis and Japanese? Speaks some Arabic too. Whata guy! Hillary is learning Chinese.

    6. Laura says:

      Less than 43 % want their reps to support Israel if we are in a conflict? That does not look like solid support to me and as I said it puts into question at least to me a disconnect between the other positive answers and what it really means to support Israel 43% isn’t bad though.

      This looks like solid support to me:

      Take the question as to whether voters favor Israel using military force against Iran if sanctions don’t derail its nuclear program. Overall, 58 percent would approve. That number is 72 percent for Jews but nearly as high for born again Christians (67 percent). Among atheists? It drops to 40 percent. This pattern repeats itself throughout the poll.

      On the question of how concerned we should be about Israel’s security, 100 percent of Jews said “very” or “somewhat.” The lowest/worst response was 88 percent (still high) from atheists, and the second highest/best response again came from born again Christians, with 94 percent.

      All groups except atheists think by a strong plurality that Obama is harming Israel’s security. If Israel attacked Iran to prevent it from going nuclear, 66 percent of Jews said that would be a “defensive” move. The number for born again Christians is 71 percent.

      There is clear solid support of Israel amongst the American populace yet you choose to put a negative spin on the poll. The fact of the matter is that you WANT America to be an enemy. You WANT Israel to stand alone.

    7. RandyTexas says:

      . . . The fact of the matter is that you WANT America to be an enemy. You WANT Israel to stand alone.

      Nailed.

    8. yamit82 says:

      Nailed.

      ?

      The fact of the matter is that you WANT America to be an enemy. You WANT Israel to stand alone.

      The fact of the matter is that you WANT America to be an enemy….No!

      You WANT Israel to stand alone.

      Yes!

    9. emmess says:

      Not sure what difference this would make but many Jews are tacit atheists. Thus, proportionately, because they identify themselves as Jews, they bring the numbers for Jews down.
      I would like to see a poll on Israel in the U.S. that does not relate to American domestic politics.

    10. saftacarole says:

      American Jews are notoriously anti-Israel except for the Orthodox. Somehow the rest of the Jewish population seems to think if they “agree” with anti-Israel sentiment they are “safe”!! This is not exactly new. Don’t expect them to turn against Obama either – they are as liberal as he is. After living 30 years in Israel I came back to the US and was shocked (although I shouldn’t have been) at the attitude of my fellow Jews. It is not surprising that I immediately registered as a Republican! It is about time the American Jews wake up and smell the BS!

    11. yamit82 says:

      Heh Safta why did you leave?

      American Jews would still be liberal Democrats if they were being shipped off to camps like the Japanese were in the 40′s. It’s in their collective DNA. When you registered Republican did you feel the need to take a shower afterward? Most Jews would i think but there is no need to register in a party you could remain independent.

      Nice to have you here. Bored? :)

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