Thursday, August 03, 2006

Republicans Support Israel; Democrats Prefer "Neutrality"

From today's Best of the Web:

A Los Angeles Times poll finds, not surprisingly, that Americans are highly sympathetic to Israel in the Jewish state's conflict with Hezbollah. But there are partisan differences:

The poll results suggested that the Middle East conflict could have domestic political consequences in the 2006 midterm elections and beyond, due in part to a growing partisan divide over Israel and its relationship with the United States. Republicans generally expressed stronger support for Israel, while Democrats tended to believe the United States should play a more neutral role in the region.

Overall, 50% of the survey's respondents said the United States should continue to align with Israel, compared with 44% who backed a more neutral posture. But the partisan gap was clear: Democrats supported neutrality over alignment, 54% to 39%, while Republicans supported alignment with the Jewish state 64% to 29%.

When John Kerry* ran for president, one of his chief talking points was that, as he put in in the first debate, he would "build strong alliances," in contrast with President Bush, whom he accused of having "pushed our allies aside." Yet Democrats are far more likely than Republicans to want to sell out a U.S. ally that faces a threat to its existence.

Ezzie: I think this is important for Jewish voters to keep in mind for the future.

ADDENDUM: To be clear, I sometimes support neutrality when it comes to Israel, depending on what the other option is - for instance, I prefer Bush's "stay out of the way" approach to Clinton's "let's see how we can help". However, the choice here was not in terms of what we should do, but who we should be aligned with. To that, the answer should be "with Israel".

11 Comments:

Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

I have a few thoughts.

First, while Democratic voters may be more likely to support "neutrality," Democratic politicians are almost unanimous in "aligning" with Israel. This is obvious from the last week.

Second, the question is poorly phrased. "Aligning" is ambiguous. Obviously, Israel is an ally and so we must align in that way, but "aligning" can also carry the meaning of being biased. Republicans in general are more likely to have a "my country, right or wrong" or "Israel, right or wrong" attitude, and the responses may reflect that attitude.

I wonder what the answers would look like if this were the question: "If Israel takes actions you consider immoral, would you support them anyway?" Being a neutral broker can be invaluable in peace talks, whereas if it looks like we're taking sides, it may prevent any peace from happening.

And pardon me for being cynical, but it looks like you "support neutrality" only when it's the view espoused by a Republican.

8/04/2006 11:10 AM  
Blogger Ezzie said...

Republicans in general are more likely to have a "my country, right or wrong" or "Israel, right or wrong" attitude, and the responses may reflect that attitude.

Why do you say that? That's a very biased, baseless statement.

And pardon me for being cynical, but it looks like you "support neutrality" only when it's the view espoused by a Republican.

No - I would have loved Clinton to be more "neutral" in his approach. I'm talking about two different types of neutrality: One in terms of alignment, one in terms of what actions should be taken. [Pro-active vs. Neutral] I love US support of Israel, when it helps Israel. Otherwise, stay out of it.

First, while Democratic voters may be more likely to support "neutrality," Democratic politicians are almost unanimous in "aligning" with Israel. This is obvious from the last week.

Good for their politicians, except a dozen fools.

Second, the question is poorly phrased. "Aligning" is ambiguous. Obviously, Israel is an ally and so we must align in that way, but "aligning" can also carry the meaning of being biased.

Yes, but the obvious focus of the question is in terms of alignment. Even in terms of "bias", what would that mean? That we favor Israel? Yes, we should. That we do so unfairly or dishonestly? That's obviously not the question.

I wonder what the answers would look like if this were the question: "If Israel takes actions you consider immoral, would you support them anyway?"

You'd also have to have people define what they consider immoral. Otherwise, I would hope that everybody would answer "No" or "Much less".

8/04/2006 11:37 AM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

Republicans in general are more likely to have a "my country, right or wrong" or "Israel, right or wrong" attitude, and the responses may reflect that attitude.

Why do you say that? That's a very biased, baseless statement.


Really? You don't believe that Republicans are more nationalistic?

I love US support of Israel, when it helps Israel. Otherwise, stay out of it.

Well, duh. Nobody who supports Israel wants the US to interfere and harm Israel. :-) The disagreement is whether being a neutral broker was to Israel's detriment or not.

The other thing that's going on here is that Democrats are probably more likely to feel for the underdog. Usually, that's a good thing, since underdogs need help and are often being wronged. In Israel, though, the underdogs are often the more guilty party. So it's liberal's good intentions being misapplied that causes that.

8/04/2006 11:51 AM  
Blogger Ezzie said...

Really? You don't believe that Republicans are more nationalistic?

I do think they are. I don't think that their nationalism is blind, as you implied.

The disagreement is whether being a neutral broker was to Israel's detriment or not.

The US will never be viewed as an honest broker, so I don't think that matters. Nor do I think that that is the intention of those who declare "neutrality".

The other thing that's going on here is that Democrats are probably more likely to feel for the underdog. Usually, that's a good thing, since underdogs need help and are often being wronged. In Israel, though, the underdogs are often the more guilty party. So it's liberal's good intentions being misapplied that causes that.

That may be the cause, but so what? The problem still stands.

8/04/2006 11:57 AM  
Blogger asher said...

Oh this is such a silly argument. After all, lets list all the democrat senators who have backed up President Bush on his policy with Israel this week. All together now guys.....John Kerry, Hillary Clinton.....a little louder. And where is Al Gore? Damn...I guess peace with Hezbollah is preferable to actually taking a stand?

8/04/2006 5:59 PM  
Blogger Charlie Hall said...

'lets list all the democrat senators who have backed up President Bush on his policy with Israel this week'

Well, here is a start:

http://www.adl.org/Israel/ads_2006_08_01.asp

Pretty big names.

'this is important for Jewish voters to keep in mind for the future.'

Absolutely! I will happily vote for all the Democrats who support Israel. Like every single congressman from New York (mostly Democrats) along with both Senators (both Democrats). If I ever live in John Dingell's district I will be quite happy to campaign for his primary opponent.

What is the point of all this? Israel is enjoying unprecedented support right now. Even some of the reflexively anti-Israel nuts are quieter than usual. Even European politicians who don't often support Israel are realizing that Hezbollah is the problem. And yet there is an attempt to create more division, implying that the support isn't as great as we'd like, based largely on one unusually worded poll. Support Israel, not partisanship!

8/07/2006 11:23 AM  
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