Perspective 69. U.S. Jewish Support of Israel: Declining
American support for Israel was traditionally bipartisan, but Trump's hawkish version of this support has enlarged a partisan gap with significantly less Democratic support. Since 71% of U.S. Jews, according to the Pew Research Center, identify as Democrats, is their support of Israel also declining?
Yes. In one recent poll (also by Pew), two-thirds of the respondents over the age of 65 were "very" or "somewhat" emotionally attached to Israel, while the figure for those aged 18-29 was 48%.
In perspective, this is part of a longer-term trend that predates Trump and reflects broader forces at work. A cogent analysis of these forces was published recently in the Israeli kibbutz press by a very close friend who happens to be one of the outstanding leaders in the movement. Let me share some of his analysis, reflecting a valuable perspective from the outside.
There is, first of all, the Trump factor. The association of Prime Minister Netanyahu with Trump "and with right-wing conservative religious forces in the United States, together the continuing right-wing and messianic radicalization in Israel" has contributed to the alienation of many liberals and progressives.
Then there is the problematic issue of Israel's policies in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank): "While many Israeli Jews lost confidence in the peace process with the Palestinians, Diaspora Jews are adhering to 'dovish' positions in support of the peace process." Of particular note are the continuing expansion of Jewish settlements and the continuing control of the Palestinians.
Finally, it is necessary to recognize how the position of non-Orthodox Jews in Israel is perceived elsewhere, given that most of the world's Jews are not Orthodox. "The failure of the state of Israel to grant equal status to non-Orthodox Jewish movements, and to oppose the subordination of women, is a powerful factor in the erosion of Israel's position in the Diaspora, and especially in the United States."
So what are the implications for Israel? Here is where having the views of an Israeli analyst are particularly relevant. First of all, "formal recognition of all the factions and varieties of the Jewish people." Secondly, "revival of the peace process with the Palestinians and striving for a two-state solution." And finally would be raising the level of Jewish Zionist education within Israel itself. This is presumably a reminder of the elements of this tradition that would unite, rather than divide, Jews in Israel and elsewhere.
So to my dear friend I can only repeat the shopworn Jewish aphorism: "From your mouth to God's ear."
The growing gap between US Jewry and Israelis is explained by basic values and political identification. US Jews are super liberals, believing in expressive individualism, equality, and tolerance.; Israelis don't. Israelis are Republicans, US Jews are not. Israelis love Trump; US Jews don't. This stems from the nature of the Israeli State, a settler-colonialist project at war with the indigenous population. Why it wasn't this way 50 years ago? US Jews are much better informed.