Is Israel Losing Popular Support?
PERHAPS the clearest lesson of the Yom Kippur war is that Israel is now almost absolutely dependent on the United States for its very existence. Europe, the old charnel-house which created the practical necessity of an Israel, has abandoned her. While token Asian pilots flew overhead for the Arabs, African nations defaulted one by one, dramatizing Israel’s isolation from the politically new continents. Given the Russian involvement, only the military and diplomatic resources of the United States stood between Israel and possible extinction. The firmness of the American commitment to Israel has, then, become more crucial than ever. How firm is that commitment?
According to one Congressman, echoing a widely held judgment: “Attitudes toward support of Israel are ‘softer’ than they were in 1967. My colleagues feel it among their constituencies.” By “softer,” of course, he meant less supportive. Yet at the moment he was making that statement, an overwhelming number of Congressmen and Senators, including himself, were signing a resolution for military support to Israel. Nor did the public-opinion polls show any slippage in favorable American attitudes toward Israel since 1967. In October 1973 the polls reflected the same pattern of opinion as in 1967, 1969, or 1970: 47 percent sympathetic to Israel, 6 percent sympathetic to the Arabs, the rest uncommitted or opinionless. Such a polling ratio among people holding an active opinion on any issue is normally considered a landslide.
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