The history of the pro-Israel movement in the United States was always predicated on one goal: creating a bipartisan consensus in favor of support for the Jewish state. And for many years, it succeeded in doing just that. There is a strong tradition of support for the ideas of a Jewish state that dates back to the earliest days of the American republic so Zionism is baked deep into the nation’s DNA.
AIPAC activists, therefore, had little trouble cultivating rising politicians from both major parties. The result was that in the last half-century, the ranks of Congress were filled with politicians who could be counted on to support Israel, even if they had few Jewish constituents.
But it’s time to acknowledge that the era of bipartisan support for Israel is over.
As the latest Gallup tracking poll of attitudes towards Israel and the Middle East conflict indicate, when broken down by party affiliation, Democrats now sympathize more with the Palestinians than with Israel. Currently, 49% of Democrats favor the Palestinians with only 38% backing Israel. By contrast, Republicans now back the Jewish state by a staggering 78-11% margin.
That’s the culmination of a trend decades in the making as the two parties have largely swapped identities when it comes to Israel in the last 60 years. In the first years of the Jewish state in the aftermath of the Holocaust, Democrats were overwhelmingly sympathetic to Israel and took pride in President Harry S. Truman’s recognition of the fledgling nation on its first day of existence.
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Author: Ruth King
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