Rightwing pro-Israel pollster Frank Luntz sounds the alarm with a survey of elite US opinion saying that 3/4 of American Democratic elites regard Israel as having too much influence, and half of them say Israel is racist. Just what we’ve been saying: criticism of Israel is gaining traction in the Democratic base and is sure to play a role in next year’s election campaigns. Hillary Clinton is surely freaking over these numbers; what’s a presidential candidate to do, will this become a tsunami.
The numbers show what everyone in the lobby fears, that Israel is becoming a partisan issue. Republicans are standing by the Jewish state, and Luntz calls the poll a “disaster.” (I wonder how much his p-o-v has distorted these numbers; he and poll sponsor, the Jewish National Fund, want to wake up the Israel lobby about American attitudes, so they will pay for even better hasbara!).
From the Times of Israel; Luntz polled 802 “members of the opinion elite” whatever that means; and describes criticism of Israel as “blatant” and “deep”:
• Asked about Israeli influence on US foreign policy, an overwhelming 76% of Democrats, as compared to 20% of Republicans, said Israel has “too much influence.”
• Asked whether Israel is a racist country, 47% of Democrats agreed it is, as opposed to 13% of Republicans. Another 21% of Democrats didn’t know or were neutral (as opposed to 12% of Republicans), and only 32% of Democrats disagreed when asked if Israel is a racist country, as opposed to 76% of Republicans. (Overall 32% of those polled said Israel is a racist country.)
• Asked whether Israel wants peace with its neighbors, while an overwhelming 88% of Republicans said it does, a far lower 48% of Democrats agreed. Another 21% of Democrats didn’t know or were neutral (as compared to 7% of Republicans). And 31% of Democrats did not think Israel wants peace (as compared to 5% of Republicans).
• Asked whether they would be more likely to vote for a local politician who supported Israel and its right to defend itself, an overwhelming 76% of Republicans said yes, but only 18% of Democrats said yes. Meanwhile, only 7% of Republicans — but 32% of Democrats — said they would be less likely to support a local politician who backed Israel.
• Asked whether they would be more likely to vote for a local politician who criticized Israeli occupation and mistreatment of Palestinians, 45% of Democrats said yes, compared to just 6% of Republicans…
Exactly: Democratic primary candidates will make the illegal settlements an issue.
Years ago Jeremy Ben-Ami of J Street said that folks were running away from the Zionism brand. Luntz offers further evidence that Zionism is a dirty word:
Luntz said the word “Zionism” could play no part in messaging designed to repair relations with US Democrats. There has to be an “end to the [use of the] word Zionism,” he said. “You can’t make the case if you use that word. If you are at Berkeley or Brown and start outlining a Zionist vision, you don’t get to make a case for Israel because they’ve already switched off.”
He also predicted that Israel is in for “a lot more trouble” from the BDS (Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions) campaign
Luntz says that a third of Democrats question how much aid the country is receiving from the U.S. and 60 percent of opinion elites don’t know what BDS– boycotts, divestment and sanctions– is. But when they find out what it is, many will support it, he says.