If you support Israel, vote Republican

Israel and Congressional Democrats
by Daniel Pipes
National Review Online
October 19, 2010


How should American voters concerned with Israel’s welfare and security vote in the U.S. Congressional elections on Nov. 2?

This much is clear after almost two years of Democratic control over the executive and legislative branches of government: Democrats consistently support Israel and its government far less than do Republicans. Leaving Barack Obama aside for now (he’s not on the ballot), let’s focus on Congress and on voters.

An ad by the Republican Jewish Coalition point out weaker Democratic support for Israel.

Congress: The pattern of weak Democratic support began just a week after Inauguration Day 2009, right after the Israel-Hamas war, when 60 House Democrats (including such left-wingers as Dennis Kucinich, Barbara Lee, and Maxine Waters) and not a single Republican wrote the secretary of state to “respectfully request that the State Department release emergency funds to [the anti-Israel organization] UNRWA for reconstruction and humanitarian assistance” in Gaza.

In the same spirit, 54 House Democrats and not a single Republican signed a letter to Barack Obama a year later, in January 2010, asking him to “advocate for immediate improvements for Gaza in the following areas” and then listed ten ways to help Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist organization.

In dramatic contrast, 78 House Republicans wrote a “Dear Prime Minister Netanyahu” letter a few months later to express their “steadfast support” for him and Israel. The signatories were not just Republicans but members of the House Republican Study Committee, a conservative caucus.

So, count 54 Democrats for Hamas and 78 Republicans for Israel.

In the aftermath of the March 2010 crisis when Joe Biden went to Jerusalem, 333 members of the House of Representatives signed a letter to the secretary of state reaffirming the U.S.-Israel alliance. The 102 members who did not sign included 94 Democrats (including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi) and 8 Republicans, a 12-to-1 ratio. Seventy-six senators signed a similar letter; the 24 who did not sign included 20 Democrats and 4 Republicans, a 5-to-1 ratio.

Voters: Public opinion explains these differences on Capitol Hill.

An April 2009 poll by Zogby International asked about U.S. policy: Ten percent of Obama voters and 60 percent of voters for Republican John McCain wanted the president to support Israel. Get tough with Israel? Eighty percent of Obama voters said yes and 73 percent of McCain voters said no. Conversely, 67 percent of Obama voters said yes and 79 percent of McCain voters said no to Washington engaging with Hamas. And 61 percent of Obama voters endorsed a Palestinian “right of return,” while only 21 percent of McCain voters concurred.

Almost a year later, the same pollster asked American adults how best to deal with the Arab-Israeli conflict and found “a strong divide” on this question. Seventy-three percent of Democrats wanted the president to end the historic bond with Israel but treat Arabs and Israelis alike; only 24 percent of Republicans endorsed this shift.

Gallup on “Sympathy for Israelis vs. Palestinians in Mideast Situation, by Party ID.”

A survey this month asked if a likely voter is “more likely or less likely to vote for a candidate whom you perceive as pro-Israel.” Thirty-nine percent of Democrats and 69 percent of Republicans prefer the pro-Israel candidate. Turned around, 33 percent of Democrats and 14 percent of Republicans would be less likely to support a candidate because he is pro-Israel. Democrats are somewhat evenly split on Israel but Republicans favor it by a 5-to-1 ratio.

A consensus exists that the two parties are growing further apart over time. Pro-Israel, conservative Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe finds that “the old political consensus that brought Republicans and Democrats together in support of the Middle East’s only flourishing democracy is breaking down.” Anti-Israel, left-wing James Zogby of the Arab American Institute agrees, writing that “traditional U.S. policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict does not have bipartisan backing.” Thanks to changes in the Democratic party, Israel has become a partisan issue in American politics, an unwelcome development for it.

In late March 2010, during a nadir of U.S.-Israel relations, Janine Zacharia wrote in the Washington Post that some Israelis expect their prime minister to “search for ways to buy time until the midterm U.S. elections [of November 2010] in hopes that Obama would lose support and that more pro-Israel Republicans would be elected.” That an Israeli leader is thought to stall for fewer Congressional Democrats confirms the changes outlined here. It also provides guidance for voters.

Mr. Pipes is director of the Middle East Forum and Taube distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University.

Oct. 19, 2010 update: For a more extensive compilation of figures on this topic, see my weblog entry, “Republicans and Democrats Look at the Arab-Israeli Conflict.”

Related Topics: Arab-Israeli debate in the U.S., Conservatives & Liberals, US policy, US politics

October 19, 2010 | 11 Comments »

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11 Comments / 11 Comments

  1. Shy Guy,

    Some horses deserve to be flogged well after they are dead, so that those who are slow get the point.

    In case you haven’t noticed there are many who are painfully slow on this forum.

    BTW, I don’t celebrate birthdays anymore, since the candles now cost more than the cake:-))

  2. Shy Guy,

    While you are narrowly correct that there may be a few Democrats who are conservative, the point I made was that their election means nothing for conservatism once they get to Washington and become part of the far left wing Democrat caucus, currently controlled by Pelosi, Reid and Obama.

    If they were REAL conservatives they would leave the Democrat Party and join the Tea Party movement just like many of us who were previously Republicans have done.

    The Tea Party now represents the real movement conservatives who support and defend what made this country great.

  3. AmericanEagle says:
    October 20, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    Shy guy,

    To begin with these are American elections, not Israeli elections.

    That’s what I said and that’s why I said what I said.

    While you are correct to emphasize the need for more conservatives, you seem to believe that there are some REAL conservatives left in the Democrat Party

    I never said that. But over the breadth of the entire US, there potentially might be less than a handful of such people who outbest a RINO they might be exclusively up against or an Arab payrolled conservative.

    I said “rule of thumb”.

  4. Shy guy,

    To begin with these are American elections, not Israeli elections.

    Daniel Pipes has clearly shown the overwhelming difference between Republicans and Democrats in their support for Israel. In addition they are being dragged further to the right by Tea Party members like myself, who left the Republican Party because of its drift towards wasteful federal spending, earmarks, bailouts and failure to secure the borders. We are also the most pro-Israeli segment of the political right wing.

    While you are correct to emphasize the need for more conservatives, you seem to believe that there are some REAL conservatives left in the Democrat Party. These are not the conservative Democrats of your father’s era who put principle above party. They may talk like conservatives to get elected, but once they get to Washington, they all vote in lockstep with Pelosi, Reid and Obama, all members of the far left wing fringe. This is no longer acceptable and will continue to be unacceptable as long as there are committed far left wing ideologues in leadership positions in the Democrat Party.

  5. Shy Guy,

    Daniel Pipes has clearly shown the overwhelming difference with regard to Israel between Republicans who are being dragged even more to the conservative end of the political spectrum by Tea Party members like myself, and the Democrats who would sell their own mothers to promote socialism and to force multiculturism down everyone’e throats.

    You are correct in your call to elect conservatives first. I hope you are an active member of the Tea Party. However, this call applies more urgently to Republican candidates in the primaries. It is too late to weed out RINOs at this late stage. On the other side of the aisle, how can there be very many REAL exceptions to mindless liberalism among the Democrats because, while they may talk a conservative game in their districts to get elected, they then go to Washington and vote in lockstep with Pelosi and Reid and Obama?

  6. As a rule of thumb, I would say vote “conservative”, whether a Republican or independent. Lots of exceptions to the rule in both directions. And, yes, Americans are supporting America in the elections. Whether this translates into support for Israel is subsequential.

  7. lionofjudah Islam is a peaceful religion of tolerance, love and goodwill. I don’t think you agree with that description. DO YOU?

  8. I don’t think many Americas will use support or lack of in deciding ultimately who they vote for. I am not sure Israel would break into the top ten issues of most concern to Americans.