A lot has been written about the apparent paradox expressed in the recent American Jewish Committee (AJC) poll of American Jews. The poll was taken on March 23, a week after the blowup during Vice President Biden’s visit to Israel.
55% answered that they approve of the Obama Administration’s handling of US-Israel relations, while only 37% disapprove. At the same time 57% approve of PM Netanyahu’s handling of the Israel-US relationship, while only 30% disapprove. And 61% think that Israel should not “be willing to compromise on the status of Jerusalem as a united city under Israeli jurisdiction,” with only 35% saying that it should.
Huh? Netanyahu and Obama are clearly at odds over the status of Jerusalem. The administration wants to divide the city, and the flap over Ramat Shlomo indicates that it may even favor a return to 1949 lines, which is far more than any Israeli government would be prepared to accept.
On the Iranian nukes, a whopping 68% thought that there was “little chance” or “no chance” that sanctions and diplomacy would prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons (only 5% said there was a “good chance” and 27% picked “some chance”). 53% would support American military action to stop Iran and 62% would support Israel doing it.
But at the same time, 47% said they approved and 42% disapproved of the Obama administration’s ‘handling’ of the issue!
So what can this 47% be thinking? They don’t think sanctions would work, but the administration can’t even apply sanctions. A series of empty threats, missed deadlines and wishful thinking on its part has brought us to the point that Iran could have a weapon within months.
And the 62% that would support an Israeli attack on Iran — do they understand that administration spokespersons have said on several occasions that such an action would be a disaster from the US point of view, and that the US would do its best to prevent it? Do they remember that Zbig Brzezinski, one of the architects of Obama’s nascent plan to impose a settlement on Israel and the Palestinians, once suggested in the crudest terms that the US should use force to stop an Israeli attack, if necessary?
There is only one interpretation of these results that makes sense, and that is that most of the poll respondents do not understand the actual attitudes and policies of the Obama Administration.
Left-wing commentator Rachel Maddow refers to “Obama derangement syndrome,” by which she means unreasonable hatred of the president by the Right (conservatives made a similar point about ‘Bush derangement syndrome’ during his administration). I think, however, that the derangement actually works in the opposite direction — a ‘reality distortion field‘ in which many Democrats (50% of the survey respondents identified as Democrats, with only 15% Republicans and 32% Independents) simply cannot accept the true nature of the administration that they elected — that in 2008 they replaced a corrupt, incompetent center-right regime with an equally corrupt and incompetent one — but one whose ideology is far more skewed to the Left than they expected or are comfortable with.
Actually, I think the Republicans are in part responsible. When they call every Democratic opponent, even centrists like the Clintons, “radical leftists” then nobody believes them when a real radical leftist comes along.
Of course the Obamists’ extreme ideology is mitigated in some areas, like health care, by their corruption. So they came up with a health care plan which will actually change very little for consumers, since it is designed not to hurt — even to help — the corporate interests that own them no less than the Republicans (it will also be bad for the deficit — that’s the competence part).
Unfortunately, where Israel policy is concerned there is a synergy of evil motives. Obama and his people, as is the fashion in academia, strongly favor the ‘oppressed’, ‘third-world’ Palestinian Arabs. But add to this the fact that they can be bought by Saudi oil money, and you have a bad situation indeed. The Bushes were quite close to the Saudis, but (at least in the case of G. W. Bush himself) there was an understanding and sympathy for Israel as a democracy.
While I’m at it, let me throw another dart at the Republicans. If they want to replace Obama in the hearts of American Jews — and others that voted for him — they will have to provide an alternative to incompetence and corruption, not just ideology. In particular, the know-nothing wing of the party, as examplified by Sarah Palin, does not engender confidence in its ability to produce a competent administration.