Rasmussen polled Americans on the Gaza War and found this:
Forty-four percent (44%) say Israel should have taken military action against the Palestinians, but 41% say it should have tried to find a diplomatic solution to the problems there, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Fifteen percent (15%) are undecided.
This striking split might be explained in terms of two factors. First: for America, this is the era of diplomacy. Obama has successfully convinced Americans that the time for talking has arrived and the age of aggression is over. The poll shows the results of this new American ethos as applied to the realities of the Middle East. This makes even more sense when you look at the division between Democrats and Republicans regarding the war:
Sixty-two percent (62%) of Republicans back Israel’s decision to take military action against the Palestinians, but only half as many Democrats (31%) agree. A majority of Democrats (55%) say Israel should have tried to find a diplomatic solution first, a view shared by just 27% of Republicans.
That Republicans are generally more supportive of Israel is not new. But these numbers reflect exactly what Israel was worried about before the American election: that the new Democratic majority will generally find it hard to sympathize with the use of force. (Barack Obama may be much less naïve about these things than are his supporters.)
The second factor is the failure of Israel’s leaders. Those who follow regional events on a daily basis know quite well that Israel was trying hard to avoid this operation, and was negotiating a “diplomatic” solution for the crisis for a very long time (many believe it was too long). The problem is that Americans are evidently unaware of these efforts. Israeli leadership has not been sufficiently tenacious about making their attempts known to the rest of the world (to be fair: it’s much harder convincing the media to report about diplomatic efforts to avoid war, than it is to get them to report about actual war).
Rasmussen also found this:
Fifty-five percent (55%) of adults, however, believe the Palestinians are to blame for the current situation in Gaza, while 13% point the finger at the Israelis. Nearly one-third (32%) aren’t sure… Seventy-three percent (73%) of Republicans blame the Palestinians, as opposed to 47% of Democrats.
This is no surprise when “75% of Republicans say Israel is an ally of the United States” and “just 55% of Democrats agree”. This is a huge challenge for Israel in the Obama years – but also a challenge for the pro-Israel Democratic camp. If they would like to have the ability to argue persuasively that Democrats are no less supportive of Israel than Republicans – the way they did last year – they need to work on these numbers.