Wednesday, June 01, 2022

The Future of American Support for the Jewish State

Young American Jews (JNS)
It’s quite depressing. Disturbing even. These are my feelings after reading a JNS article by Jonathan Tobin about the direction American support for Israel is going.

 It is not going up. It is going down. The question Jonathan asks is, ‘Why’? What has happened to turn around the support of the Jewish state by the American people to  situation where it seems to be increasingly declining? 

Jonathan provides us with some of those answers. None of which offer much hope for change. First –the good news: 

Pew shows that 67% of Americans have a favorable opinion of Israel and its people.

 This is however coupled with the following: 

Some 52% say the same about Palestinians. When the question shifts to views about the Israeli government and that of the Palestinians, the gap between the two is larger… 

More disturbing is the fact that younger Americans have less favorable attitudes towards Israel while giving more support to Palestinians than their elders. About 56% of those under 30 have a favorable view of Israel while 78% of those over 65 feel the same. At the same time, 61% of those under 30 have a favorable opinion of the Palestinians with 47% of those over 65 feeling the same.

Of those under 30, some 27% have a favorable view of the Israeli government, while an equal 26% of the same age group think well of Fatah and Hamas. Contrast those numbers with the 65-and-older crowd, 57% who back the Israeli government with only 19% thinking well of the Palestinian government.

If this trend continues, I shudder to think how Israel will be viewed in the not too distant future when this younger demographic becomes the majority from which America’s future leaders will be drawn.

Needless to say, this is not looking good for Israel’s future – or possibly even its existence as a Jewish State. 

Jonathan posits several factors that influence the thinking of the older versus younger demographic.  Some of which I have myself noted in the past. They are based on the liberal mindset of the young who were not around for any of Israel’s wars.  All of which were about Israel’s survival. Instead they look at the here and now and see Palestinian suffering at the hands of a powerful Israeli military. A military that serves the ‘racist polices of an Apartheid state’. 

Oppressed peoples will naturally garner sympathy from the masses. Who are ignorant of the tragic history of the Jewish people culminating in an all but forgotten Holocaust whose survivors had no place to go other than an Israel that opened their doors to  them. Ignorant of the fact that all of Israel’s wars were existential on nature. Factors that older Americans are still aware of. 

It is compassion for the oppressed peoples of the world  that generates youthful support for the Palestinians. Which in turn leads to ‘understanding’ Palestinian resistance by Hamas and Hezbollah. Believing they are unfairly labeled terrorist organizations when ‘in fact’ they are just liberation movements of an oppressed with little else in their arsenal to fight it. 

Jonathan also notes that this kind of mentality exists far more among Democrats than it does among Republicans. And that Democratic support for Israel has been waning for decades – long before their favorite whipping boy, Netanyahu was in any way responsible for their decreasing support. But as Jonathan notes: 

Gallup’s numbers show, those trends were set in place long before Netanyahu and Obama were engaging in public quarrels. Moreover, Israel’s continued presence in the West Bank has everything to do with repeated Palestinian rejections of Israeli offers of statehood and peace, and little to do with the policies of right-wing governments. Since, to this day, both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas reject the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders are drawn…

The failure of American media, mainstream politicians and the foreign-policy establishment to accept these facts as most Israelis have done is why so many have accepted the false narrative about Palestinian victimization that has impacted public opinion. 

As if this were not enough, left wing academia has certainly influenced public discourse on the matter. They are the favored interviewees by American media on the subject of Israel. A huge portion of the American public gets their news and opinion from them. So it cannot help but infiltrate mainstream America. 

Add to that the fact that the entertainment industry is massively populated by liberal personalities and producers, any content in their productions that mentions Israel is rarely favorable. It’s a miracle that Israel still gets the support of 67% of the American people. But as these statistics indicate, that support seems to be going in the wrong direction.

It does not help matters that extremists within the Charedi world and within the Religious Zionists world have done things to bolster anti Israel attitudes among the left.

I think there might be another reason why young people do not value a Jewish state. The current trend in civilized world is away from religion. 

That should be obvious by things like popular support for normalizing and legitimizing a homosexual lifestyle via marriage despite clear biblical passages that forbid engaging in homosexual sex. The younger the demographic, the more likely they will be more liberal. And less likely the bible will have any impact on them. 

Any biblical reference to the Jewish state as biblical right granted by God to the Jewish people will practically be laughed at. Much the same way they feel about anything the bible says that does not fit in with the humanistic values preached in universities, the media, and the entertainment industries. 

Church attendance is down. Churches are closing all over the country. Christian  America is becoming more secular. 

This phenomenon is nowhere more obvious than  among our own Jewish people – where over 70% intermarry. Of the 30 percent remaining, 20% are secular and could not care less about being Jewish. Living a lifestyle no different than their secular Christian neighbors. And will raise their children the same way - if they have any.

Why should any of these people care about a Jewish state if they know so little about the Holocaust, Israel’s existential wars, their security needs being the primary reason for Palestinian suffering, and the belief that the bible has no standing in any discussion about the Jewish state.

Jonathan suggests a possible course of action to change things: 

(Israel) must battle for those in the middle, pointing out that the toxic theories of the left are a permission slip for anti-Semitism and not advocacy for human rights. Any other approach will only ensure that the troubling trends among young people and Democrats will continue to get worse. 

I’m not so sure that is enough. The ascendancy of the left is overwhelming. Better narratives from Israel will barely be audible in the current climate.

If there is a bright spot in all of this, it is that independent voters still sway elections. Not hard core Democrats or hard core Republicans. Independents can go either way depending on what the  domestic issues are and who they see better equipped to deal with them. So predictions about the death of Conservatives and their more pro Israel policies is a bit premature. 

But still. as things stand now American support for Israel as a Jewish State looks pretty bleak. I sure hope I’m wrong. But there is nothing out there to convince me of that as far as I can see. 

May God protect the Jewish people.