One of those pieces I wish I’d written! Daniel Luban responds to the Beinart piece by analyzing the Israel lobby’s effort to replace young Jews who don’t care about Israel with evangelical Christians:
I think that both supporters of Christian Zionism like [Walter Russell] Mead and critics like [Matt] Yglesias underestimate just how crucial support within the educated and affluent liberal mainstream of American Jewry has been in sustaining the special relationship; as a result, they overestimate the extent to which growing Christian Zionist support can unproblematically substitute for dwindling Jewish support. This is a case where merely looking at crude poll numbers, as Mead is fond of doing, can mislead us. For one thing, they show only breadth of support, not depth. It may be that large numbers of Christians are willing to answer “yes” to the poll question “do you support Israel?”, but this tells us very little about levels of actual commitment translating into political action. Some, like John Hagee and his followers, are no doubt exceptionally committed to the Greater Israel project, but they are by all indications a minority even among conservative evangelicals.
But more importantly, poll numbers fail to indicate influence. U.S. support for Israel has never been about the raw number of Israel’s supporters, but rather the fact that these supporters tended to make up an enormous part of the American political, intellectual, and economic elite. It was this influence, not raw numbers, that helped the Jewish community spearhead what Alan Dershowitz called “perhaps the most effective lobbying and fund-raising effort in the history of democracy.”
Everyone knows that Luban is right. It’s obvious. Giving the Christian Zionists any kind of parity politically on this issue is an intellectual evasion, or an effort to shift blame for our unevenhanded policy.