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American Public Prepared to Support Israel in Endless War With Arabs

By Matthew Yglesias on February 24, 2010 at 5:31 pm

"American Public Prepared to Support Israel in Endless War With Arabs"

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Something liberal Jews like to say is that Israel has an interest in securing peace with its neighbors, because if a state of war and occupation proceeds indefinitely then American support for what will become a de facto apartheid state will become untenable.

The logic is fairly clear to me, but the structure of public opinion as reported by Gallup casts some doubts on this line. For one thing, most people think there will never be peace:

Outlook for Peace Between Israel and Arab Nations, 1997-2010 Trend 1

And people are firmly on the Israelis’ side:

Middle East Sympathies, Full Trend, 1988-2010 1

Both support for Israel and pessimism about the possibility of peace are correlated with Republican partisan self-identification. To conjecture a bit beyond what the data can strictly tell us, I think it’s plausible to posit that there’s a large Republican-identified Christian Zionist bloc that’s extremely comfortable with the idea of aligning itself with Israel for the purposes of an endless religious war and of course they have their counterparts in the “revisionist” strand of Zionism in Israel and among American Jews. To my way of thinking—and I think that of most Jewish liberals—this is a chilling vision and we choose to believe that the conflict both can and will be resolved at some point. But many Americans have a level of cultural and ideological affiliation with violence and coercive domination that makes it easy for them to identify with this version of future Israeli history.

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