If you have not listened to VP Pence’s speech at the Israeli Knesset, it is worth the time to listen to.
Vice President Mike Pence gave an epic speech at the Knesset this week. His was the most powerful embrace of Zionism and the Jewish people any foreign leader has ever presented. Pence’s fluency in Jewish history, and his comprehension of the centrality of the both the Bible and the Land of Israel in the vast flow of that history in far-flung-exile communities across time and space was spellbinding. He touched the hearts of his audience, causing knots in the throats of most of the people sitting in the Knesset on Monday afternoon.
Pence’s speech was rendered poignant and the friendship he bore became tinged with urgency with the publication, the very next day, of the latest Pew Center survey on American views of Israel.
Speaking in the name of the American people he represents, Pence said on Monday: “The friendship between our people has never been deeper.”
And when it comes to the Republican voters who elected President Donald Trump and Vice President Pence a year and two months ago, Pence is certainly correct. But the Pew data showed that on Israel, as on so many other issues, the cleavage between Republicans and Democrats is vast and unbridgeable.
Most of the coverage of the Pew survey focused reasonably on its main finding. The good news is that overall American support for Israel over the Palestinians remains more or less constant, and overwhelming. Forty-six percent of Americans support Israel over the Palestinians while a mere 16% of Americans support the Palestinians against Israel. The numbers haven’t changed much since polling began in 1978.
But then the news becomes more fraught. The disparity between Republican support for Israel and Democratic support for Israel has never been greater. Whereas 79% of Republicans support Israel over the Palestinians, only 27% of Democrats do. Moreover, the further one goes to the Left among Democratic voters, the more anti-Israel the respondents become. Liberal Democrats are now nearly twice as likely to support the Palestinians over Israel as they are to support Israel over the Palestinians. Thirty-five percent of liberal Democrats support the Palestinians against Israel. A mere 19% support Israel more than the Palestinians.
Conservative and moderate Democrats still support Israel far more than they support the Palestinians with 35% of moderate and conservative Democrats supporting Israel over the Palestinians, and 17% supporting the Palestinians more than Israel. But the level of support for Israel among this demographic has dropped precipitously in the last year and a half. In the previous survey, which took place in April 2016, support for Israel was 53%, or 19 points higher.
In other words, the last year and a half has seen a precipitous drop in Democratic support for Israel even as Republican support for Israel has grown ever higher.
Israel will never have a better opportunity than it has today to convince an American administration to abandon the anti-Israel narrative at the foundation of the two-state formula. That narrative, which asserts that there is no peace because there is no Palestinian state, places the blame for the absence of peace between the Palestinians and Israel on Israel alone.
Today there is an administration that is open to hearing an alternative narrative that portrays Israel properly as the good guy, and the Palestinians as the hopelessly intransigent foe that they have always been.
JPost Read Caroline Glick’s analysis of the situation.