2018-01-31 / Editorial

Support for Israel must remain bipartisan

Since Israel’s birth in 1948, bipartisan support for the Jewish homeland has been a bedrock principle of American politics, which is why a recent poll by the reputable Pew Research Center showing increasing polarization is raising eyebrows.

A partisan divide around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is widening in the United States, according to Pew. While 79 percent of Republicans sympathize more with Israel than with the Palestinians, that number is only 27 percent for Democrats. Twenty-five percent of Democrats sympathized more with the Palestinians, while only nine percent of Republicans did.

Experts are split over what the findings mean: Whether pro-Israel advocates should be concerned that Democrats are abandoning Israel or, as some suggest, the results are more reflective of America’s general political polarization.

As Michael Kaplow, policy director of the Israel Policy Forum, put it: Democrats “are increasingly conflating their feelings about Israel with their feelings about Trump, associating Israel with the American president who has cast himself as resolutely pro-Israel.”

Still others say the question posed by Pew was badly worded. After all, other polls show that a vast majority of Americans do support Israel while lawmakers continue to provide bipartisan support for the Jewish state.

Whether or not the findings accurately reflect America’s opinions, there is a case for strengthening advocacy efforts stateside, spreading the word that Israel is a liberal and open society strongly aligned to American values, regardless of the political parties in charge in either nation.

Jason Isaacson, the American Jewish Committee’s associate executive director for policy, said it well: “It’s a reminder that it’s essential for Israel and friends of Israel to make the case for Israel’s openness and liberalism and devotion to justice and yearning for peace.” 

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