The Passionate Attachment

America's entanglement with Israel

The Republican primaries and the perception-based Israel acid test

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In an analysis of the Republican primaries, Dr. Jonathan Rynhold, a senior research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA), argues that “support for Israel in the strategic sphere has become an acid test of presidential credibility on national security.” With all of the candidates bar one “falling over themselves to establish their own pro-Israel credentials,” it’s hard to disagree with his description of the current abysmal state of U.S. political discourse. However, as Rynhold seems to suggest, it is perceptions rather than reality which sustain that passionate attachment:

Polling by Public Opinion Strategies from 2010 indicates that the top reason that Republicans support Israel is because they perceive it as America’s most important ally in the Middle East. The belief that God gave the land to the Jewish people was the fourth most popular reason, though the data shows this fell way behind shared democratic values and partnership in the war against terror.

At the same time polling by Pew and Gallup over the last few years demonstrates that for Americans in general, the most critical perceived threats to the US are terrorism and the military power of Iran. (The threat posed by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is perceived to have diminished). Indeed, Iran is considered America’s greatest enemy, followed by North Korea and China. These countries also make up three of the top four countries where developments are considered ‘vitally important’ to American interests.

Of course, American voters might have quite different perceptions of “America’s most important ally” if they knew about the Lavon Affair, the USS Liberty, Jonathan Pollard, “Dancing Israelis” on 9/11, the Office of Special Plans, etc.

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Written by Maidhc Ó Cathail

February 20, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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