In one of the more interesting analytical writings on the American (non-)debate on the Israeli assault on Gaza, Glenn Greenwald considers how alarmingly out-of-step Democratic politicians are with their party’s rank-and-file views. He cites the first poll on American public views of Israel’s attack. While there is a general tie between those supportive and opposed, Democrats are against Israel’s onslaught in Gaza by a significant margin:
This Rasmussen Reports poll — the first to survey American public opinion specifically regarding the Israeli attack on Gaza — strongly bolsters the severe disconnect I documented the other day between (a) American public opinion on U.S. policy towards Israel and (b) the consensus views expressed by America’s political leadership. Not only does Rasmussen find that Americans generally “are closely divided over whether the Jewish state should be taking military action against militants in the Gaza Strip” (44-41%, with 15% undecided), but Democratic voters overwhelmingly oppose the Israeli offensive — by a 24-point margin (31-55%). By stark constrast, Republicans, as one would expect (in light of their history of supporting virtually any proposed attack on Arabs and Muslims), overwhelmingly support the Israeli bombing campaign (62-27%).
Republicans, without surprise, like seeing Arabs blown up.
Greenwald goes on to make several important points. He points out how similar the rhetoric and coalitions were to the 2003 Iraq war buildup. The exception he notes is key: Democratic politicians were much more willing to oppose American actions in Iraq.
This is connected to his observation that the debate is entirely driven by the question of Israeli interests. There is almost no discussion of American interests even though many have noted the growing divergence between the two. They are simply assumed to overlap perfectly, resulting in “virtually no debate over whether the U.S. should continue to play such an active, one-sided role in this dispute.” That is why debate on US-Israel relations is relegated mostly to the corners of the new media. The mainstream media follow the political elite, not public opinion.
This only furthers the erosion of “America’s reputation and credibility,” he writes. When it comes to the Middle East, there surely is little left.
This leads to his strongest point, a riposte to the Obama administration that challenges them to turn its campaign slogan into useful policy reformation:
The “change” that many anticipate (or, more accurately, hope) that Obama will bring about is often invoked as a substance-free mantra, a feel-good political slogan. But to the extent it means anything specific, at the very least it has to entail that there will be a substantial shift in how America is perceived in the world, the role that we in fact play, the civil-liberties-erosions and militarized culture that inevitably arise from endlessly involving ourselves in numerous, hate-fueled military conflicts around the world. Our blind support for Israel, our eagerness to make all of its disputes our own disputes, our refusal to acknowledge any divergence of interests between us and that other country, our active impeding rather than facilitating of diplomatic resolutions between it and its neighbors are major impediments to any meaningful progress in those areas.
While I hope for this too, I doubt it will happen until the decent public opinion mobilizes politically. It must mature from simple opinion to organized action. There will not be change without work. An opinion reported to a pollster is just an expression and does not say anything about the extent of one’s commitment to act on that view. We need action.Filed Under AIPAC, american politics, Gaza, israel, palestine, polls, Will, zionuts