The Pew Research Center has polled Americans about their respective attitudes toward Palestinians and Israelis. Historically, Americans have harbored some of the most favorable views in the world toward Israel. Views of Palestinians have been correspondingly low as well. There are many reasons for this, chief among them the activism of American Jews and power of the Israel Lobby to mold public opinion favorably toward Israel.
But the Pew survey published today reveals some striking changes in these attitudes. Not among the entire American public. But among a significant segment which I view as the trendsetter for future changes in political and social attitudes: they are liberal Democrats and Millenials. If you review American attitudes on divisive issues like civil rights, gay rights, and liberalizing marijuana laws, you will find that the majority of Americans harbored negative views at first. But gradually over a span of decades attitudes slowly transitioned toward a more liberal, tolerant perspective. If you review the groups that began this trend you’ll find it was the liberal Democrats and the youth.
The survey notes that among liberal Democrats, for the first time, more favor Palestinians than Israelis by a 40% to 33% margin. In the past year, support for Palestinians in this cohort more than doubled from 20% to 43%. Going back in time to 2001, support among liberal Democrats was reversed: 48% favored Israelis and only 18% favored Palestinians.
Among Millenials, the swing is less pronounced, but still noticeable: in the past decade support for Palestinians tripled from 9% to 27%, while support for Israel declined from 51% to 43%.
Republicans will cheer this news, believing it’s a forerunner of a major realignment among Americans who support Israel. The problem is that support for Israel among all groups, while strong, will eventually begin to decline. So the GOP will gain little advantage from this. Not to mention, that loyalty to Israel is far down the list of issues that voters care about. The only voters who cast their votes largely regarding support for Israel are a narrow segment of American Jews and evangelicals. Not enough to matter in most elections.
Change comes slowly, but it does come over time. This is precisely what happened regarding the issues I noted above. Attitudes that were cast in stone one decade begin to change just as the force of ocean waves carve out rocky cliffs through erosion.
That’s why I’ve called the liberals and Millenials harbingers of change regarding Israel. If Israeli leaders were smart they would do something more than switch their cultivation from American Jews to evangelicals. They would try to understand the forces at work to bring these changes. They’d try to get out front of the changes so that they don’t smash them like a ton of bricks when things move in a direction less hospitable to Israel. Most of all, they’d consider moderating their policies to address the reasons why these changes are gathering steam. Alas, there is little change of that happening. And Israel’s leaders and the Lobby will have no one to blame but themselves when the stuff hits the fan.
Indeed, a trend.
In recent years (mainly under Obama) liberal Democrats have been drawing parallels between the Palestinian issue and American African Americans. The parallel is, of course, flawed in the extreme – but it is useful as a marketing ploy given the resurgence of “Black Lives Matter” and other pro-African-American popular stances.
How long this will last after a “tough on crime cycle” (the Ferguson riots and subsequent police pullback from active policing has been linked to a double-digit percentage increase in homicide rates year over year in many American cities –
)…. Is a good question. As pro-African-American stances in the states has reached a zenith (particularly under Obama), which will probably change.
This linkage may also be debunked by attacking the roots of this false parallel as the historic circumstances (and evils whether necessary or not) are completely different.
Richard Silverstein says
@ lepxii: What garbage. The parallel between the plight of Palestine and American racism & Black Lives Matter is right on the mark. I resent you calling this “a marketing ploy.” It’s cynical, offensive and racist. If you do this again, you’ll be right up there on my list for moderation. I also resent the term “pro-African American.” It’s not only meaningless, it’s racist as well.
The rise of the murder rate has nothing whatsoever to do with Ferguson. Nor do I know what a “double digit rise in homicide rates in many American cities” means. American policing is abysmal in many cities. That’s a large part of the reason why the crime rate rises.
You’ve made brash, unfounded claims here without any credible evidence to support them. I put you on notice (once again).
” That’s why I’ve called the liberals and Millenials harbingers of change regarding Israel.”
If you’re not a liberal at twenty you have no heart, if you’re not a conservative at forty, you have no brain.
Kyle Renner says
If you think that Israel is “the victim” re: Palestine and Lebanon– then you have no brain.
If you think that the Zionist movement “deserved” any more then 6% of Mandate Palestine and “didn’t start the conflict” then you have no brain.
So– who are the brainless ones, and who aren’t, in light of these facts?
The victims are all those who’ve been denied good governance all over the Middle East.
The Zionists and the Arabs plead their respective cases at Versailles, and the world decided to give the Jews, a State or a homeland, depending on who you talk to, in Palestine.
Perfidious Albion (H.M.G.) started to renege on it’s promises to the Jews not soon after Great Britain began to administer the Mandate over Palestine.
Am I wrong, Kyle?
Kyle – the 6% you mention are the oldest tool in the anti-Zionist arsenal.
Can you tell me what are the other 94%??? Please don’t say Palestinian land b/c we both know it is a lie. Not even Arab land.
Over 50% belonged to Her Majesty the Queen and before her the Ottoman Sultan. Other land belonged to European churches and monasteries. Then much was owned by Arabs from Syria and Cairo. How much was owned by local Arabs??? NOT 94%!!!
>Over 50% belonged to Her Majesty the Queen…
Wow the Israeli education level is what it is = …. Britain has had two long ruling Queens. The first ruled from 1558 to 1603 and the second Elizabeth from 1952 ->. If over 50% belonged to Her Majesty the Queen it happened after 1952. So Israel what in hell are you doing there on her Majesty’s lands and when did you steal that land from the Queen? 🙂
What is the modern history writing of Israel? Fiction and poor quality propaganda.
“Over 50% belonged to Her Majesty the Queen”
Ignoring your idiocy about the Queen, you have a much larger absurdity in failing to distinguish between land ownership and sovereignty. Britain never owned Palestine but was awarded a temporary Mandate to administer the land during a temporary transition period before the Palestinians (longstanding residents and recent immigrants) were to be able to govern themselves.
Richard Silverstein says
@ Abby: I don’t know how old you are, but according to your prescription, you must be over 40. My brain functions quite well, thank you, well past forty.
Millenials don’t become right-wingers. They become harbingers of social change as they age. They bring those tolerant, liberal ideas into the mainstream.
Well said Richard. AS someone who is also “well past forty” I have to say that the millennial generation is doing us proud on a whole host of issues. It seems that just about every set of polling data that issues good demographic data establishes the liberal credentials of youngsters; not just with regard to Palestine, but across the gamut of issues from gay rights, penal policy, opposition to isolationist Brexit policies, action to avert the impact of climate change, wealth inequality, the rejection of established religion, and so on and so forth.
Arie Brand says
Yes and when you are a fascist at any age you have neither heart nor brain.
Old man Alexander van der Bellen, a greenie at 72, has beaten Austria’s Trump . Let’s hope for a duplicate performance by that old leftie Sanders.
Thanks, Richard, for publishing these figures.
Gaby Miliki says
For Israel to moderate their policies in order to gain favor with liberal democrats (i.e. you) in the US? Who do you think Israel owes its duties to? None other than its citizens of course. If Israel’s interest differ from US millennials, liberals or other groups causing the US to distance itself well, so be it. Israel is very aware of this trend and is forming closer ties with Russia, China, India, South Korea, Japan to name a few. Israel survived the break-up of its alliance with France in 67 and will survive the break-up with the US as well. But the idea that Israel should change its policies in order to gain favor with the likes of you Bernie and other Palestinian loving people is simply ridiculous.
Richard Silverstein says
@ Gaby: Why can’t people like you read? I didn’t say Israel should modify its polices for the sake of liberal Democrats (btw, the word is capitalized unless you’re both a “Democrat” and “Palestine denier”). It should change its policies for the sake of the massive shift that will ensue among all Americans, which will lead to Israel’s eventual abandonment by the U.S. Perhaps not this year or even this decade. But if things don’t change dramatically, it will happen.
As for depending on Russia or China: good luck with that. Both of them will jettison Israel as soon as it offers them no particular financial benefits. There is no ally in the world Israel could find who’s been more blind & forgiving than the U.S. When the parting of the ways comes, you will be howling with pain & anguish. No one will want you. You will be like Jeremiah’s poor abandoned widow, Jerusalem, in the Book of Lamentations.
As for me, please don’t change Israeli policies on my account. Just keep marching to your doom, eye’s blindfolded, ears plugged. It suits you.
Gaby: you are utterly deluded and absurdly wrong if you think Israel in its current form could possibly survive without the military, diplomatic, economic and moral support provided by the USA. When “Israel survived the break-up of its alliance with France in 1967” it cultivated new friends like Turkey (Mavi Marmara!), Iran (Shah!) and South Africa (Support for Apartheid!). It especially courted non-Arab African states (!) with the lure of agricultural and medical assistance. This might have been an inspired strategy to gain votes at the UN (similar also to the supply of arms to South and Central American dictatorships) – but how much fruit did it bear in the long-term? A foreign policy built on a certain symbiosis in the exchange of military technology (Russia, China, India) is like building a villa on a Middle Eastern sandbank (especially if growing American hostility made it less easy for Israel to pirate American military and related technology). The other states you quote, South Korea and Japan, we can expect to remain solid clients of the USA.
With Jews, many of them Zionists, accounting for at least a third of US billionaires, they could easily cover the costs of aid to Israel if the flow of taxpayer dollars is cut. Would give them a chance to prove their pro Israel bona fides.
Zionist Americans are already hugely funding illegal settlement activity and the propaganda efforts of a foreign state, but that could easily change if the US were to properly apply the regulations that already exist restricting tax allowances to genuinely charitable causes, or restricting money-laundering activities supporting terrorism. The American billionaires could quite possibly replace the $5b+ per annum (and growing) that the US tax-payer hands over to a tiny rogue nation in an insignificant part of the world, but that misses the point entirely: it is not the money that is important; it is the access to American military technology and the associated diplomatic immunity including veto-power in the UN and other world institutions. That the billionaires could not provide, unless they continue to keep the US political establishment in their pocket. But that can, will and must change, as the incredible BS campaign is demonstrating. Time for you to start worrying, Vollin – the times they are a’changing.
Arie Brand says
I don’t know who taught you history but I think you are entitled to getting your schoolfee back. If any party was betrayed by “perfidious Albion” it was the Arabs. Let us look:
There is first the HUSAYN–MCMAHON CORRESPONDENCE (1915–1916)
“Correspondence between Sharif Husayn ibn Ali of Mecca and the British high commissioner in Egypt, who promised independence to Arab countries.
Ten letters, written between 14 July 1915 and 30 March 1916 but unpublished until 1939, constitute an understanding of the terms by which the sharif would ally himself to Britain and revolt against the Ottoman Turks in return for Britain’s support of Arab independence. Sharif Husayn ibn Ali of Mecca asked Sir Henry McMahon, the British high commissioner in Egypt, to support independence of the Arab countries in an area that included the Arabian Peninsula (except Aden), and all of Iraq, Palestine, Transjordan, and Syria up to Turkey in the north and Persia in the east. He also asked Britain to support the restoration of the caliphate.
McMahon’s reply on 24 October 1915 accepted these principles but excluded certain areas in the sharif’s proposed boundaries: coastal regions along the Perisan Gulf area of Arabia; the Iraqi province of Baghdad, which would be placed under British supervision; areas “where Britain is free to act without detriment to the interests of her ally France”; and, in Syria, “the districts of Mersina and Alexandretta and portions of Syria lying to the west of the districts of Damascus, Homs, Hama, and Aleppo.” The Arabs assumed that at least Arabia, northern Iraq, central Syria, and Palestine—which was regarded as southern, not western, Syria—were part of the area that was to be independent. They started the Arab Revolt of 1916, which helped the British to defeat the Turks and to occupy the region. After the war, Arabs felt betrayed because Britain conceded Syria to France and promised to help in the establishment of the Jewish national home in Palestine. The British claimed that they intended to exclude Palestine from McMahon’s pledges.”
But that can’t be right if the following bit is right:
“During a War Cabinet meeting on policy regarding Syria and Palestine held on 5 December 1918, it was stated that Palestine had been included in the areas the United Kingdom had pledged would be Arab and independent in the future. “ (Wikipedia)
Seen in this light the term “national home” in the Balfour Declaration (Nov.1917), which dates from after the Husayn -McMahon correspondence but from before that war cabinet meeting, did not mean a sovereign state for the Jews. In fact, the Arabs were doubly betrayed because what did that declaration say:
“His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”
The second half of that sentence should be clear enough.
I don’t know what you mean by referring to “Versailles” in relation to the Jews. The most important document there was that containing President Wilson’s fourteen point. Only points V and XII have conceivably something to do with Palestine.
“V. A free, open-minded, and absolutely impartial adjustment of all colonial claims, based upon a strict observance of the principle that in determining all such questions of sovereignty the interests of the populations concerned must have equal weight with the equitable claims of the government whose title is to be determined.
XII. The turkish portion of the present Ottoman Empire should be assured a secure sovereignty, but the other nationalities which are now under Turkish rule should be assured an undoubted security of life and an absolutely unmolested opportunity of autonomous development, and the Dardanelles should be permanently opened as a free passage to the ships and commerce of all nations under international guarantees.”
When it talks in point XII of “the other nationalities which are now under Turkish rule should be assured an undoubted security of life and an absolutely unmolested opportunity of autonomous development” this is conceivably more relevant to the Palestinian Arabs than to the Jews who, at that stage, still formed a fairly insignificant minority there. And at any case it is too vague to be interpreted as an encouragement for the formation of national states.
The statistics speak for themselves, but I do wonder what you believe the overarching causes of this shift in attitude is?
Richard Silverstein says
@ shay: As Israeli poIicies shift ever farther rightward toward theocracy, perpetual war and racism, an ever widening divide develops with the values of both liberal Democrats and millennials. It is a phenomenon that will only continue and increase over time.
The values of liberalism and ultra nationalism/Revisionism are alien.