Over the weekend, the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg repeated a piece of conventional wisdom that has increasingly been used as a club with which to beat Israel’s government:
AIPAC, at this point, represents the outlook of a minority of Jewish Americans—and certainly a minority of younger Jewish Americans. . . . Make no mistake: Support for Israel (and for the Netanyahu government in particular) is slowly waning among Democrats.
Even though we hear this mostly in the context of attempts to bludgeon Israel and to persuade its leaders that they cannot rely on American support, many of us tend to accept it as true since it confirms our most pessimistic conclusions about the result of assimilation and the loss of a sense of Jewish identity among American Jews.
But though this may eventually prove to be true, it might not yet be so. A new poll conducted by Frank Luntz and commissioned by the CAMERA media watchdog group suggests that attitudes towards the peace process have not shifted as much as Goldberg thinks they have.
The poll showed an overwhelming majority of American Jews who believe that the Israeli people and its government are committed to peace. A large majority also thinks that Palestinian incitement to hatred is the primary obstacle to Middle East peace, not Jewish settlements. More than three quarters—77 percent—say Israel should “refuse to negotiate with the Palestinian Authority until Hamas renounces terrorism and officially recognizes Israel’s right to exist.”
While some will dismiss this poll because of its association with a strongly pro-Israel group, the numbers are pretty clear cut and seem to portray an American Jewry whose basic support for Israel’s existence and its right to self-defense has not diminished.
Just as important for politicians though, is the poll of Jewish political contributors. As Eli Lake wrote yesterday in the Washington Times, a number of top Democratic money raisers believe President Obama’s confrontational attitude toward Israel will diminish support for the party in next year’s election. Instead of using Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit to the United States to shore up relations with the Jewish state and with Jewish Democrats, Obama’s ambush of the Israeli has deepened suspicions about the president’s attitude.
So while Israel’s critics on the left believe that Netanyahu is bleeding support, the evidence continues to mount that it is they, and not he, who are out of touch with the views of the majority of American Jews.