Unnecessary Hysteria about Declining U.S. Support for Israel

March 29 2019

To judge by the headlines in several major news outlets, a recent Gallup poll suggests a sharp drop in Americans’ sympathy for the Jewish state. Mitchell Bard explains that, to the contrary, the data show little change from previous years:

It is true that overall support for Israel did fall from its all-time high of 64 percent to 59 percent—its lowest point since 2009. Nevertheless, that figure is still well above the historical average of 48 percent registered in the 89 Gallup polls since the Six-Day War. [Looking at a longer timeline], support for Israel has been on the upswing. In the 1970s, the average level of support for Israel was 44 percent; in the 1980s and 1990s, it was 47 percent, including the record highs during the Gulf War. Since 2000, support for Israel is averaging 54 percent. . . .

The real hysteria has focused on an alleged decline in Democratic support for Israel. But the data do not justify such concern. Yes, 76 percent of Republicans compared to 43 percent of Democrats were more sympathetic toward Israel than toward the Palestinians. This sounds bad—unless you know that support among Democrats in 37 polls since 1993 averaged 46 percent. Support for Israel was lower than that in the mid-1970s.

[Yet] support for Israel among liberal Democrats has remained consistent for a decade. Furthermore, when asked their attitude toward Israel this year, 58 percent of liberal Democrats and 66 percent of moderate and conservative Democrats had a favorable view, and only 9 percent viewed Israel very unfavorably. . . .

And what about the whole notion of [large numbers] of Jews leaving the Democratic party for the Republicans? . . . The poll also found that “only 16 percent” of Jews identified as Republican. That is exactly the same percentage that the American Jewish Committee found in its 2018 survey.

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Read more at Algemeiner

More about: American Jewry, Israel & Zionism, US-Israel relations

Who Changed the Term “Nakba” into a Symbol of Arab Victimization?

April 19 2019

In contemporary Palestinian discourse, not to mention that of the Palestinians’ Western supporters, the creation of the state of Israel is known as the Nakba, or catastrophe—sometimes explicitly compared with the Holocaust. The very term has come to form a central element in a narrative of passive Palestinian suffering at Jewish hands. But when the Syrian historian Constantin Zureiq first used the term with regard to the events of 1948, he meant something quite different, and those responsible for changing its meaning were none other than Israelis. Raphael Bouchnik-Chen explains:

In his 1948 pamphlet The Meaning of the Disaster (Ma’na al-Nakba), Zureiq attributed the Palestinian/Arab flight to the stillborn pan-Arab assault on the nascent Jewish state rather than to a premeditated Zionist design to disinherit the Palestinian Arabs. “We [Arabs] must admit our mistakes,” [he wrote], “and recognize the extent of our responsibility for the disaster that is our lot.” . . . In a later book, The Meaning of the Catastrophe Anew, published after the June 1967 war, he defined that latest defeat as a “Nakba,” . . . since—just as in 1948—it was a self-inflicted disaster emanating from the Arab world’s failure to confront Zionism. . . .

It was only in the late 1980s that it began to be widely perceived as an Israeli-inflicted injustice. Ironically, it was a group of politically engaged, self-styled Israeli “new historians” who provided the Palestinian national movement with perhaps its best propaganda tool by turning the saga of Israel’s birth upside down, with aggressors turned into hapless victims, and vice-versa, on the basis of massive misrepresentation of archival evidence.

While earlier generations of Palestinian academics and intellectuals had refrained from exploring the origins of the 1948 defeat, the PLO chairman Yasir Arafat, who was brought to Gaza and the West Bank as part of the 1993 Oslo Accords and was allowed to establish his Palestinian Authority (PA) in parts of those territories, grasped the immense potential of reincarnating the Nakba as a symbol of Palestinian victimhood rather than a self-inflicted disaster. In 1998, he proclaimed May 15 a national day of remembrance of the Nakba. In subsequent years, “Nakba Day” has become an integral component of the Palestinian national narrative and the foremost event commemorating their 1948 “catastrophe.”

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More about: Arab World, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, New historians, Yasir Arafat