The Left Is Decreasingly Relevant to Politics of Israel
Matthew Yglesias of Think Progress unwisely waded into Israeli politics once again last week, writing about a phenomenon that he terms “post-Jewish Zionism.” This is his theory that Christians and conservatives are becoming increasingly pro-Israel, a concept that isn’t exactly groundbreaking.
But according to Yglesias, the impact of this is that American Jews—who are typically politically liberal—are becoming “decreasingly relevant to the politics of Israel.”
“The existence of Christian Zionists is, of course, not new,” Yglesias wrote. “But what is new is that Israeli politics has drifted toward the hawkish right over the past ten years even as Jewish Americans remain on the progressive left.”
The insinuation is that American Jews have a more “progressive” perspective on how to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than either Christian Zionists or Israelis themselves, and that these conservatives may hijack the issue and push solutions that don’t mesh with the values of typical American Jews.
It’s true that some (though not all) Christian Zionists don’t support a two-state solution, which puts them out of sync with the politics of most of the American Jewish community. However, while American Jews are progressive on social issues, they take a far more pragmatic and conservative stance on Israel.
In fact, when it comes to Israel, it is the progressive left that appears to be the most out-of-touch with the politics of the Jewish community. A recent poll conducted by Frank Luntz for CAMERA showed that nearly three-quarters of Jewish Americans opposed the idea of Judge Richard Goldstone appearing before Congress, while only 5 percent supported it. This puts it firmly at odds with the left-leaning lobby J Street, which actually facilitated meetings between members of congress and Judge Goldstone.
Further, 81 percent of American Jews say they would be more likely to vote for a representative who signed a letter deploring Palestinian incitement. Compare this to J Street’s position: back in March, the group publicly opposed a Congressional letter condemning Palestinian incitement.
As for the new Palestinian-Hamas unity deal, 77 percent say Israel should “refuse to negotiate with the Palestinian Authority until Hamas renounces terrorism and officially recognizes Israel’s right to exist.” This seems to contradict with President Obama’s recent speech to AIPAC, in which he said that “no matter how hard it may be [for Israel] to start meaningful negotiations under the current circumstances, we must acknowledge that a failure to try is not an option.”
And when it comes to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement—an anti-Israel campaign promoted by many left-wing fringe groups—71 percent of American Jews are opposed.
On the central issues, 78 percent believe it is either “very necessary” or “100% and totally necessary, no exceptions,” for Palestinians to accept Israel as a Jewish state. 84 percent believe that the Israeli government is committed to establishing a genuine peace with the Palestinian people. And 77 percent consider Palestinian incitement to be a major obstacle to peace, in contrast to 12 percent who believe the settlements and another 12 percent who believe the “occupation” is to blame.
So to say that Zionism in America is drifting away from the Jewish communities is simply untrue. If anything, the polling shows that, when it comes to Israel, there’s a divide between American Jews and the larger progressive community.