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Why are Americans so Pro-Israel?

Why are Americans so Pro-Israel?

Four reasons that put Americans sharply at odds with the rest of the world.

by

Why are Americans so pro-Israel?

Of all the ways in which the United States marches to the beat of its own drummer, few are more striking than the American people's consistent and deep-rooted support for the Jewish state. In a recent nationwide survey, the Gallup organization asked Americans: "In the Middle East situation, are your sympathies more with the Israelis or more with the Palestinians?" For the fourth year in a row, 59 percent -- nearly 6 in 10 -- said their sympathies were with Israel, while just 18 percent sided with the Palestinians. When respondents were asked for their opinion of various countries, 63 percent said they had a favorable view of Israel (21 percent said very favorable), compared with just 15 percent who thought highly of the Palestinian Authority.

Conversely, only 29 percent of Americans told Gallup that their opinion of Israel was negative, even as a whopping 73 percent expressed a negative attitude toward the Palestinians.

This overwhelmingly positive feeling for Israel is normal for the United States, but it puts Americans sharply at odds with the rest of the world. At the United Nations, for example, nothing is more routine than the castigation of Israel. Similarly, any time Israel is forced to use its military power in self-defense, it comes under the harsh glare of the international media, which subject it to a scrutiny far more unforgiving than any other country receives. It was only a few years ago that a poll commissioned by the European Union found that a plurality of Europeans regarded Israel as the greatest threat to world peace -- more menacing than even North Korea or Iran.

So what makes Americans different?

Foreign policy "realists" could certainly suggest reasons why close friendship with Israel is not in America's interest, beginning with the fact that most of the world doesn't share it. There are 300 million or more Arabs in the world, and they sit atop a vast share of the world's oil supply. Why endanger American access to that oil by maintaining such close ties to a nation with only 6 million people and no petroleum to export? Why risk incurring the wrath of Islamic terrorists by supporting Israel, a nation most of them detest? Surely it would make more sense -- so a "realist" might argue -- for Americans to distance themselves from the world's lone Jewish state, and tilt instead toward the much greater number of nations and governments that are hostile to Israel.

Yet most Americans instinctively reject such advice. The national consensus in support of Israel is longstanding and durable, and it isn't grounded in economics, energy policy, or a quest for diplomatic popularity. Nor, as some conspiracy-minded critics have claimed, is it because a "Zionist lobby" in Washington routinely hijacks US foreign policy, manipulating America into serving Israel's ends.

The roots of America's bond with Israel lie elsewhere.

First, Americans stand with Israel because in it they recognize a liberal democracy much like their own: a nation in which elections are lively, fair, and democratic; in which freedom of speech and the press are core values; in which the political rights of minorities are respected; and in which a commitment to civil liberties and justice is woven into the very fabric of society.

They are linked by the kinship of common values.

Second, Americans know that Israel is a stable ally in one of the world's most critical and volatile regions. Its intelligence service is perhaps the world's finest, its military is the best in the Middle East, and its painfully acquired expertise in counterterrorism is invaluable -- all the more so as we wage our own war against jihadi terrorists.

Third, Americans sympathize with Israel because they understand that the enemies of Israel state hate the United States as well. The suicide bombers who revel in the death of innocent Jews, the fanatics who chant "Death to Israel," the Iranian- and Syrian-backed forces that launch rockets from Gaza or Lebanon with the aim of shedding Israeli blood -- they are steeped in the same murderous ideology as Osama bin Laden and the Islamists who slaughtered so many Americans on Sept. 11, 2001.

And fourth, there is a deep religious bond between American Christians and the Jewish people, a bond that stretches back to the earliest era of American history. More than a century before the Revolutionary War, the Puritan leader Increase Mather taught his followers to anticipate the day when the Jews would return to their homeland and establish "the most glorious nation in the whole world." In 1819, former President John Adams wrote of his wish to see "the Jews again in Judea an independent nation." Today, tens of millions of American evangelicals passionately support -- even love -- the Jewish state, and consider it nothing less than their duty as Christians to stand with Israel and her people.

Why are Americans so pro-Israel? For reasons practical and idealistic, religious and strategic. They are linked by the kinship of common values -- an affinity of strength and decency that reflects the best of both nations, and sets them apart from the other nations of the world.

This article originally appeared in the MetroWest Jewish Reporter

Published: December 19, 2009


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Visitor Comments: 37

(36) Nell Okie, July 25, 2014 11:11 PM

Proven Wrong

I think that the abusive treatment of a young American Jew by Israeli police, as he protested against the Israeli violence aimed at Palestinians and "Israel’s disproportionate violence against innocents", deflates this notion: "They [Americans and Israelis] are linked by the kinship of common values -- an affinity of strength and decency that reflects the best of both nations, and sets them apart from the other nations of the world."

(35) Dickus, June 24, 2014 7:38 PM

These statistics that claim what percentage of Americans support or oppose Israel are very suspect. In fact, it would be a great surprise if even 20% of the American public had an opinion of Israel at all. To the average American, EVERYTHING in the middle-east is a wasteland, and not worth thinking about.

(34) Mark, November 19, 2012 12:01 AM

Why is the US pro-Israel

I've been searching on the internet as to why the United States is so pro-Israel and I can't seem to find a straight answer. People's answers range from crazy conspiracy theories to rose tinted pieces such as this.The United States has supported dictatorships in the past and has helped to overthrown democratically elected governments .The US do what many,many other countries and peoples have done before them,and that is pursue there own selfish interests, I very much doubt that the US government has such a strongly pro-Israeli foreign policy because it just warms the cockels of their heart to see another democracy prosper and flourish. I can not figure out why the US is so strongly pro-Israel. I am honestly trying to find a fair,balanced and logical explanation.

(33) Anonymous, February 21, 2012 6:33 PM

Israel - Here for a LONG time

I agree of course, with this article. Being a Christian I have a deep belief that the Jewish nation belongs in Israel, and will be their till the end of time. As to why America has this deep lover relationship with Israel. Cause it's in our blood. America can tell the difference between good and evil. Israel is good. The muslim radicals. Bad. Liz Taylor is good. Putin is very bad. Alan Greenspan - a cool dude. And very smart. Try to think of Muslim radicals that are good. Just one. Can't do it. They are bad. By the way, as I said before, I'm a Christian, but I'm also of Irish descent.

Anonymous, November 21, 2012 9:47 PM

please state the obvious

can you say if there are any good Radicals? Radicals are radicals regardless of religous background. its our lack of understanding and mutual respecting for the truth that peace can not be sustained in the world. Greed and propoganda has taken over..

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