Saturday, August 05, 2006

Them Jew lov'n Rednecks

Michael Barone puts together a thread I have noticed both online and in person over the last couple of weeks - and has been bubbl'n around my nogg'n for longer: the Right to Center-Right is where the most support for Israel goes. With the exception of the pro-Israel Jewish Left in this country (being squashed as we speak), most of the Left has decided that since Israeli Athens has become Israeli Sparta - maybe Israel was a mistake and Jews are, well, Joooosssss.

Here's an interesting poll, conducted for the Los Angeles Times and Bloomberg News. Its main finding: Republicans are much more likely to back Israel over its attackers than Democrats are.

Should the United States continue to align itself with Israel, adopt a more neutral posture, or align more with Arab countries? By a 50 to 44 percent margin, respondents said we should stick with Israel rather than take a more neutral posture; only 2 percent want us to side more with Arab countries. But there's a big difference between respondents of different parties. Here's a table showing the results, including independents.

Reps Inds Dems
Continue with Israel 64 46 39
More neutral posture 29 49 54
Side with Arabs 1 2 2

We see a similar split on assessments of the current conflict between Israel and Hezbollah. The poll asked whether Israel's action was justified and not excessively harsh, justified but excessively harsh, or unjustified. Here 43 percent thought it was justified and not excessively harsh, 16 percent said it was justified but excessively harsh, and 28 percent--a pretty high number, considering that Israel was responding to armed attacks across its border--said it was unjustified. The good news for Israel: 59 percent think it's justified, and 28 percent think it's not. The bad news for Israel: 43 percent thought it acted properly, while 44 percent thought it acted improperly, that it should not have responded or responded too harshly. Let's break these numbers down by party identification.

Reps Inds Dems
Justified and not too harsh 64 37 29
Justified but too harsh 11 15 20
Unjustified 17 33 36
Israel acted properly 64 37 29
Israel did not act properly 28 48 56

Let that sink in: A majority, 56 percent, of Democrats think Israel did not act properly, while an even bigger majority, 64 percent, of Republicans think Israel did act properly. That's a pretty sharp difference.

These numbers would have been astonishing 50 years ago and surprising 20 years ago. In the 1940s and 1950s, Democrats were much more supportive of Israel than Republicans were. Israel, after all, was a conspicuously socialist republic, whose creation initially was supported by the Soviet Union. The Democratic Party had a much more philosemitic image than the Republican Party. And remember that it was Republican President Dwight Eisenhower who stepped in and shut off Israel's offensive in the 1956 war. And Democratic President Lyndon Johnson who sped support to Israel in the 1967 war.

Now we see a turnaround. Left-wing anti-Israel sentiment is not confined to a few odd corners of the academic world; it has become a mass constituency in the Democratic Party. Nor is the view that the Palestinians and Hezbollah are virtuous and deprived Third World victims while Israel is a First World oppressor limited to old media (see CNN, BBC, large parts of the New York Times, etc., etc.). It's also the view of a mass constituency in the Democratic Party.

American Jews, of course, continue to vote overwhelmingly Democratic--only 25 percent for George W. Bush in 2004. But not all American Jews care deeply about Israel, and not all Americans who care deeply about Israel are Jews--not even most of them, I think. Orthodox Jews are more pro-Israel surely than Reform and secular Jews, and they are more likely to vote Republican. But evangelical Christians, who vote heavily Republican, are much more likely than average to be pro-Israel.
I do find it funny that the ones that call me a Right wing nut job Fascist; also seem to ping on me for being a Pro-Israel tool of the Zionist. From a historical perspective, that is almost funny, if not sad - not sad that the American Right is Israel's best friend, but that the Left's core is so rotten that they are willing to let the Jews, once again, be at the mercy of enemies an order of magnitude greater than they are. It is easier to call people names that look at the world as it is.
Today we see the forces of democracy struggling in Iraq against terrorists and insurgents who may be no more than young males bent on mayhem; we see the Arab nations at least temporarily more troubled by Hezbollah and Hamas than by Israel; we see those who urged Israel to give up land for peace having to confront the fact that Israel gave up land and the people there sent rockets back to Israel. In that setting, it's important for those who care deeply about Israel to remember which American party's constituency shares their views and which American party's constituency, increasingly, doesn't.
Hey, while we are on the subject of name calling - just between you and me, can we agree on a few things that are a half-decade old in the lexicon? Let's face it, "Neocon" is Lefty code for "Jew." You can almost feel the spittle coming of the screen. When someone says, "If it wasn't for the Neocons..." what they really want to say is, "If it wasn't for the Jews..." They say, "The Neocons got us into this mess..." they really mean "The Jews got us into this mess." Most of them don't realize it, but I hear it loud and clear. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure it out. Don't think for a minute that Senator Lieberman's problems don't have a lot to do with the fact he is an observant Jew who is pro-Israel and pro-victory. And make no mistake, he is a man of the Left. It will do him no good, he left the reservation where nice Jewish boys are supposed to stay. Give the Right a little credit, at least their support for Israel isn't to justify all the Jewish votes they get. Why do you think the Right is pro-Israel, while the nut-roots are just an edge from Hezbollah? Oh, I get called a Neocon now and then. Thanks!

I try to be up front. Like my anti-Castro bias, I also have a pro-Israel bias. Part of my environment growing up. I have tried to argue, and in my lefty days (yes, there were some) I did, the other side. "Castro is better than what was there before, his people love him, look at the healthcare....." and "Israel should continue land for peace. Look what the Sinai got them....." But after a time, I realized that it was all "think," "want," and "feel;" not "know," "see," and "fact."

The time is past for such theory. You have to look at the facts. Until its neighbors become sane, Israel needs our complete support to maintain a pro-active defense. If we waver, Israel will fall. The one bright, progressive, Western island in a sea of Medieval madness.

Speaking of madness. All you history buffs out there, ever really get your brain around why everyone (except Mussolini before he thought he would ride the strong horse) missed the growing threat of Hitler's Germany. Wonder what everyone was (or Americans were not) drinking in the 1930s? Feel like history works in cycles, but part of you thinks you are getting too worked up as the wheels come off the wagon? Well, Victor Davis Hanson will give you a reason to say "Well, it isn't just me."
Yes, perhaps Israel should have hit more quickly, harder, and on the ground; yes, it has run an inept public relations campaign; yes, to these criticisms and more. But what is lost sight of is the central moral issue of our times: a humane democracy mired in an asymmetrical war is trying to protect itself against terrorists from the 7th century, while under the scrutiny of a corrupt world that needs oil, is largely anti-Semitic and deathly afraid of Islamic terrorists, and finds psychic enjoyment in seeing successful Western societies under duress.

In short, if we wish to learn what was going on in Europe in 1938, just look around.
And you don't have to have a social with Hammas to hear anti-Semitism. When you get a chance sometime, sit around a table with some Europeans (except for Germans, they don't rise up for the bait, French and Greeks are the easiest to get going) and bring up the subject of Israel. Yep, it is never far below the surface. I made that mistake early in my career. Strange silence when I spoke up in favor of Israel. If you only socialize with Americans, you are missing it. My favorite is when an European brings up the subject of "The influence of the Israeli lobby on American foreign policy." Easy argument to win. Just state, "Well, we still have a small Jewish population that does lobby well for a low single digit percentage of the electorate. You don't see that in your country much because you don't have that large of a Jewish population, and I don't think they are all that active."

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