Sunday, February 25, 2018

Who Will Support Israel in the Future?

Misguided Jews protesting Israel. How far reaching is this? 
I note with dismay an article in Hamodia (republished at Cross Currents) by Rabbi Avi Shafran. Not because I disagree with him. But by what he reveals might be the case about the future of American support for Israel. The statistics he references do not surprise me at all:
A mere 27% of the 1503 respondents who identified themselves as Democrats told the pollsters they sympathize with Israel over the Palestinians…  Among self-identified Republicans, those numbers were 79%. 
Back in the 70s support for Israel was more or less even in both parties. If one goes back far enough in time, one will find Democrats to have been the ones mostly supporting Israel  - far outnumbering Republicans.

Another disappointing statistic (again – not surprising) is that support for Israel is even less among the younger element – even among the most supportive Republicans. Conservative Evangelical Republican support goes down from 77% among older Evangelicals to 58% among those 18-34.

And as if that weren’t bad enough - the following is even more disturbing: 
(A)n earlier study of the broader Jewish geographical scene, the 2013 Pew survey of American Jews nationwide, yielded a similarly worrisome portrait of young respondents’ feelings. It, too, found that less than a third of young Jews it asked sympathized more with Israel than the Palestinians. 
At best this means that over 67% of young Jews believe there is moral equivalency between Israeli and Palestinian suffering. What is probably more likely is that they sympathize more with the plight of Palestinians than they do with Israelis!

In short the more politically liberal one is – the less likely they are to support the Jewish state. The more politically conservative – the more likely!

Why is this the case? And why are young people less inclined to support that their older counterparts even among Conservatives?

I can’t fully explain it. But let me make a few observations. First about young people.

With age comes wisdom. My hope is that as these young people get older, they will understand more about what the issues really are. The more one learns about the conflict - the more they will understand that the black and white views they had in the past - aren’t all that black and white. 

Too many young people attending college having been indoctrinated by leftist college professors to see Israel as an occupying apartheid state. Some of their rhetoric is pretty hateful. There is also the mainstream liberal media whose bias favoring the Palestinian underdog is there for any discerning eye to see. 

I don’t really know how pervasive the bias in academia is. But if one is to believe the reports from a variety of sources, it is pretty widespread.These academicians see only oppressors and the oppressed. Israel is the former; Palestinians the latter. There is rarely any context. Neither historical not practical. There is only one side. One ‘truth’: The oppressed peoples of the world (Palestinians) must be freed from their Nazi-like oppressors (Israelis). Who demean, torture, and kill them at will - without any repercussions; take over their land, and treat them as an inferior race. 

Pro Israel speakers are boycotted and protested by students inspired by such rhetoric. Without any countervailing opinions allowed. Students so indoctrinated see being pro Israel tantamount to being pro Nazi! 

Obviously this is not universally the case. But it happens enough so that many students – even some that are Jewish are indoctrinated to believe that Palestinians are being subjugated by a mighty military occupier that treats them with extreme Nazi-like cruelty! 

They have no clue about the history that brought about the circumstances at hand. Refusing to listen to anyone with another view that might offer a fairer explanation of what they observe - with  a jaundiced eye - happening in the holy land . They will see any such explanations as excuses for the continued cruel occupation. 

Is it any wonder that young people - even Jewish ones - in so many of our universities end up with less support for Israel?  I’m actually surprised there isn’t even less support than reported! 

And what about the actual circumstances they observe? Should they not believe their eyes about Palestinian suffering at the hands of Israel? That’s where the mainstream media comes in. They are not as bad as academia. Their bias is more subtle. Which in some ways is even worse. They pretend to be even handed, but invariably their reports from Israel tend to be far more sympathetic to Palestinian suffering than to Israeli suffering.  The subtle underlying message is, the occupied are suffering at the hands of the occupiers.  

This leads to some really biased reporting that tries to pass for even-handedness. For example, when a Palestinian attacking an Israeli with a knife is shot before he has a chance to carry out the attack, the headline might say something along the lines of ‘Palestinian shot by Israeli’. Only when one gets deeper into the article might it say it was done in self defense.  

This is typical of the kind of reporting in much of the mainstream media. Their influence is greater than academia because their reach is far broader. And then there is the influence of the online social media.  That has become the primary source of information for young people these days. But it is an unregulated source that can and often does pass off lies as truth by unscrupulous people with their own political agenda. 

What about mainstream Democrats? Why are they less supportive of Israel regardless of age? While as Rabbi Shafran points out that there are still some very strong supporters of Israel among them in Congress, clearly they are increasingly becoming a minority among voting Democrats.

I believe the reason for that might be their liberal orientation. By definition, the liberal mind is morally relativistic. Which is one reason their originally strong support for Israel has morphed into support for Palestinians  When Israel was the underdog prior to 1967, Democrats championed Israel’s cause. If one goes back to the Holocaust, one will see people  liberals like actor Marlon Brando actively working on behalf of Jewish victims being slaughtered in Europe. After 1967 - once Israeli Jews became percieved as strong, those same liberals started looking for a new underdog. They found it in the Palestinians.

Republicans tend to be conservative. With a more fixed set of morals and sense of right and wrong. Which is why religious people find the Republican Party more sympathetic to their views. When societal values evolve, it does so without them. They stay with their original principles. Evangelical Christians - like their Orthodox Jewish counterparts see Israel in those terms. It is their religious principles that guides their views. Which is why they tend to show such strong support for Israel.

The future will depend on the learning curve of young people. Will they remain hostile – or at best indifferent to Israel based on their youthful thought processes that have been so heavily influenced by the aforementioned factors? Or will they mature and see Israel in a more nuanced and therefore more favorable light? I can’t predict the future. But as Rabbi Shafran notes at the end of his article, 25% of Jews under age 17 are Orthodox. 

Why the sudden growth? That’s because of a better Jewish education and a higher birthrate than non Orthodox Jews.Where there is  a massive increase in intermarriage. 

Orthodox influence will surely increase. Will that help? I don’t know. But one thing seems certain. Future support for Israel will see Orthodox Jews as the demographic that most supports them. They are the only Jewish demographic that is growing.  And it is Orthodox support that Israel can be assured of.