A recent Israel Project Poll
has good news and bad news about support for Israel in the USA, and many important lessons. The most important lessons:
Overwhelming support for Israel
Overwhelming support for Israel
Grass roots support for the Arab cause is a myth
"Leftists" support Israel too
Disengagement was very helpful in recruiting support for Israel
Ignorance is out there, and it is our biggest enemy. Ignorance is the bliss of the bad guys.
- The overwhelming majority of American voters support the position of the US and Israel that sanctions should be enacted against Iran for its nuclear policy - 78%. According to a rating system used in the poll, Americans are overwhelmingly "warm" toward Israel, and "cool" toward Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas and the Palestinians. 53% identified themselves as supporters of Israel, while only 5% identified themselves as supporters of the Palestinians. 80% of respondents agreed that Jews deserve a homeland, and only 12% said that it would be better if Jews left Israel to satisfy demands of extremists. 63% believe Israel was justified in its response to the Hezbollah in Lebanon, while only 20% said it was not justified. 63% believe that Islamic extremism is responsible for the conflict, while only 15% blame it on Israel.
The anti-Zionist bandwagon is hokum
- Anti-Israel and anti-Semitic groups have made a great deal of noise lately. They have tried to create the impression that "real" public opinion is against Israel in the US, and that only the sinister machinations of the "Israel lobby" have been subverting US policy to support Israel. They have done this through boycott initiatives, petitions about "Zionism equal Racism," demonstrations for Hezbollah and on-campus rallies for a one-state "solution." Manifestly, it is not true. Americans support Israel by an overwhelming margin. By "making a lot of noise," the forces of darkness have gotten a few people to jump on their bandwagon. We have to make sure people know the truth. Disengagement Dividend
- The pollsters have tracked US public opinion changes and concluded that Israeli disengagement from Gaza was a major factor in convincing people that Israel was sincere about peace, whereas Palestinians are not. To that extent, we have to recognize that the disengagement policy succeeded in a very important part of its mission, despite the security headaches it created. Israel must not abandon the quest for peace, and must make it clear that it is ready for peace at every opportunity, and constantly test the propaganda of the other side. If it is lies, we must show it up for what it is. If there really is a peace partner out there, that partner must be supported and encouraged. That does not mean that Israel has to blindly "take risks for peace." "Leftists" support Israel too
- Another lesson of this poll that must be studied by Israel advocates is that Israel supporters come from all parts of the political spectrum, and that a large part of that spectrum is liberal or identifies with the Democratic party. The myth accepted by many on both sides is that "Zionism" is a cause of the right and "anti-Zionism" is a cause of the "left." 49% of the sample identified themselves as either Liberal, Democrats, or "independent lean to Democrats." Even if their political parties and leaders do not always support Israel, left of center votes do. The big lesson: Ignorance is our enemy
- The bad news is that this support is vulnerable. It is vulnerable because of the vast ignorance of Americans and others about the Middle East. We easily fall into the error of thinking we are at the center of everyone's concerns, but it is not so. 14% of the respondents, all voters with reasonable education, could not identify the Palestinians. 8% could not identify Israel. 20% of the respondents had never heard of Hezbollah. 25% admitted they had never heard of Hamas. 27% admitted that they knew little or nothing about Iran and the nuclear program crisis! Nonetheless, 77% of those who admitted knowing little or nothing about the Iran nuclear development issue, were for sanctions against Iran, only slightly less than the 79% of more knowledgeable people who supported sanctions. To have an opinion, you do not need to know anything it seems; it works both ways of course, in Europe as in the USA.
The ignorance is probably much deeper than the polls indicate. Of those who did hear about Hezbollah and Hamas, it is doubtful if many know about the Hamas charter
or the Hezbollah program
, which announce the goals of destroying Israel. How many of those who could identify Israel, know how big (or little) Israel is?
How many of those who heard of the Palestinians, really know the history of the conflict, and know, for example, about the Nazi activities of the Grand Mufti, Hajj Amin el Husseini?
Israel is far away from Europe and the USA, and is not a central concern. Until 9-11 forced people to look at the Middle East, not that many people outside of the Middle East really thought about the problem.
Public opinion is fickle. Support that is not grounded in basic understanding can be easily swayed by the next fantastic claim about Israeli "massacres" as happened with the Jenin 'massacre' hoax and is happening to some extent with the false propaganda spread about "civilian casualties" in Lebanon. Ignorant people are also vulnerable to adopting fake mythologies about intentional "Zionist dispossession" of Palestinian Arabs (see Zionism and its impact"
People who do not know about the anti-Israel campaign of the UN
on the "Question of Palestine"
can be persuaded perhaps by the next condemnations of Israel to take the Palestinian side? Such condemnations will certainly be forthcoming from the United Nations owing to the Arab lobby and the Division for Palestinian rights, which operate safely under the cloak of general ignorance. How many people ever heard of the "Division for Palestinian Rights" and what it does? It may "sound good" to an ignorant person. After all, everyone should have rights, no?
Next to ignorance of others, the apathy and complacency of Israel's supporters are our biggest enemies. We can't take it for granted that "everyone knows" all the things that we know, and then get angry when people who were sold myths by the other side reproach Israel with imaginary crimes. If people don't know, it is our responsibility to make them know. We can't simply protest about anti-Israel boycotts and anti-Israel petitions. We have to make our own petitions to keep the issues on the public agenda and make sure people are aware of the facts. (Speaking of which - please remember to sign and publicize the Petition for Fair Play for Israel at the United Nations"We believe that truth is on our side. We all must work tirelessly to ensure that everyone knows the truth.Ami Isseroff
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Replies: 3 Comments
Thank you for the truth.
At my university, Cooper Union, there was a discussion today about the Israeli lobby and whether or not it controls America. There were three speakers: one believes in the disestablishment of Israel, the other refused to answer questions "from the likes of" another speaker on Crossfire when he asked the right questions, and the third co-authored a paper about how the Israeli lobby controls America.
I didn't go to the "discussion": they wanted $25, and I had class during that time. But I'm just glad they're wrong: they had me scared for a while.
Last week, someone in Cooper's administration allowed Hugo Chavez to speak in that same lecture hall. For the record: I, along with most other Cooper students, opposed this. We will do our utmost to find out who let him in and take appropriate action.
Next week, there's a lecture about "Fairness and Accuracty In Reporting" :) - what a contrast...
Yasha, Wednesday, September 27th
Aga Kahn stated recently (NPR,9/25/06) that we do not have a "conflict of civilizations" but a "conflict of ignorance". Really! Is it the ignorance of "infidels", Westerners or Israelis that cause Islamists to blow up and butcher innocents men, women, children, babies all over the world, including their own children? What is it that the victims don't understand that causes them to be butchered? What is it that people don't understand that causes them to be slaughtered by those who are offended when described as violent? Isn't the logic expressed these days in the world upside-down?
G.Siegel, Monday, September 25th
The forum page where I wanted to commend you for your excellent essay linked above as 'Zionism and its Impact' has been hacked. I guess the juvenile hackers got frustrated because they have no arguments.
motti, Sunday, September 24th
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