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Not That Obama Cares About Public Opinion

I made the point Friday that Obama’s signature domestic-policy issue and his latest foreign-policy gambit reflect a heavy dose of contempt for American public opinion. A new poll on Americans’ attitudes toward Israel confirms this:

Americans, by a significant margin, believe the United States should support Israel in its conflict with Palestinians, a poll released Sunday shows.

Eighty percent said they agree with the statement, “Enemies of America use the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as an excuse to create anti-American sentiment. Even if the dispute is settled, they would find another excuse to justify their hostility towards America,” a poll commissioned by The Israel Project found.

And 73 percent of Americans said the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is about ideology and religion not land, the poll said.

Asked about Iran’s nuclear program, 64 percent said they believed Iran will pursue a goal of destroying Israel, and 80 percent believed it would make it easier for terrorist groups to gain access to nuclear weapons.

There is an intuitive understanding by Americans that Israel is the “good guy” in this fight. They see a small democracy, a faithful ally of the U.S., and take Israel’s side. On the other side, they see perpetrators of violence, they see Holocaust deniers, they see intransigent bullies who have been offered the moon and the stars and still refuse to recognize the Jewish state. Americans have figured out what is central and what is peripheral. There is in all that more common sense and wisdom than in the entire Obama administration.

You can’t conduct foreign policy by polls. But sometimes the public has it exactly right and has, at a gut level, a keener understanding of the nature of a conflict and the stakes than do the pseudo-sophisticates that run Foggy Bottom. Plus, the idea that we should try to ingratiate ourselves with the human-rights-abusing and largely undemocratic “Muslim World” is, I would suggest, not considered a laudatory activity by most Americans. They have a quaint notion that the U.S. should be on the side of its democratic allies, whether Poland, the Czech Republic, Honduras, or Israel, and should treat them with respect and care. After all, in their own lives they realize the heavy price of disloyalty and ingratitude.


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