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Juan Cole, The People's Oracle?:

Juan Cole thinks the following is clever enough to post twice:

"The Israel lobbies take their cue on what is good policy from the Israeli government and the Likud Party. [emphasis added] So, US Israel policy is driven by . . . the Israeli rightwing. That is why Congress voted 309 to five to support Israel's war on the people of Gaza, with 22 abstaining."

As a preliminary matter, let's note that Juan Cole apparently conflates the positions of the "Israeli government" and the "Likud Party," even though the Likud Party is not in the current government, with the governing coalition dominated by the centrist Kadima Party and the center-left Labor Party. Public opinion polls show that almost the entire Jewish Israeli public--94%, a highly unusual consensus given Israel's famously fractious politics--supports the Gaza operation.* So any Congressman voting to support Israel is supporting a consensus position in Israel, not "the Israeli right-wing." Not to mention that Egypt, Jordan, and the Abbas government are none-too-subtly rooting for Israel to humiliate Hamas, and that Israel's actions are perfectly consistent with U.S. policy, supported by both parties, regarding how to deal with terrorism--see Afghanistan, war in.

Second, Cole and like minded-people (e.g., Glen Greenwald, who quotes Cole with effusive praise, has been particularly insistent that public opinion and U.S. policy regarding Israel wildly diverge) simply refuse to acknowledge that, while pro-Israel forces have a lot of influence, the primary reason for their success is that Israel is overwhelmingly popular among the American public, and the Palestinian leadership is overwhelmingly not: "Overall favorable ratings of Israel in February 2008 were 71%... By contrast, just 14% of Americans have a favorable opinion of the Palestinian Authority, while 75% have an unfavorable view.... The PA is rated just above North Korea (12%) and Iran (8%) as the least popular countries." Assumedly, Hamas, as a U.S.-designated terrorist organization responsible for horrific bus bombings and the like, is even less popular than the PA. More relevant data is available at the above link. Even if a particular Israeli action, like the one is Gaza, meets with some ambivalence from the American public, there is, to say the least, little to be gained by a Congressman from taking a position that can be portrayed in a 30-second t.v. ad as pro-Hamas.

I suppose it's easy enough, hanging around in left-wing circles in Ann Arbor and attending MESA conventions, and preaching to the choir on one's blog, to delude oneself into believing that the people's will is being frustrated by the nefarious "Israel lobbies," and that "the people" really agree with one's own extreme anti-Israel views. But delusion is what it is. Here's more from Commentary's Contentions blog.

*[Aside: if it was a "war on the people of Gaza," as Cole hysterically claims, the casualty count would be at least hundred times what it is; how do all the people who claim that Israel is engaging in "genocide" and what-have-you explain why there have been only about five hundred civilian casualties (according to Palestinian sources; the Israeli military estimates no more than 250) out of a population of over a million? Not that Cole has shown himself to be a clear thinker on Israel-related matters in the past.]

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. More on Public Opinion on Israel/Gaza:
  2. Juan Cole, The People's Oracle?:
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More on Public Opinion on Israel/Gaza:

Via Rosner's Domain, the Powerpoint presentation from respected pollsters Greenberg and Newhouse linked on this page has to be pretty sobering for the Juan Coles and Glen Greenwalds who think American public opinion is on their (anti- very hostile to Israel's policies vis-a-vis the Palestinians) side. For example, five times as many people blame only Palestinian leaders for the violence in Gaza as blame only Israeli leaders (55-11); almost ten times as many people (48-5) think only Israeli leaders want peace and are working towards it as think the same of Palestinian leaders; almost seven times as many people think only Israel has moral leaders who work to limit civilian casualties as think the same about the Palestinians (47-7); and, perhaps most tellingly, despite the images of Israeli bombs exploding in Gaza for the last two weeks, almost four times as many people blame the humanitarian crisis in Gaza on Hamas as blame Israel (66-17).

I'm not confusing public opinion with wisdom, though even stopped clocks are right twice a day. Rather, the incessant complaints from certain ideological outliers that American public opinion really agrees with them on Israel, but the "Israel lobby" prevents the politicians from doing anything about it, aren't consistent with reality the polling data.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. More on Public Opinion on Israel/Gaza:
  2. Juan Cole, The People's Oracle?:
102 Comments