YouGov has a survey out about American’s attitudes to Israel and Jews. There are some items of interest. I beg those who cannot bear any criticism of this country to stick with this.
Accepting, of course, this is a not a push-poll, designed by intent or incompetence to provide pleasing answering to its masters. It’s growing harder to trust any official source these days. As partial and inconclusive evidence of that, in a list of left wing people, Bernie Sanders had the highest favorability numbers. On the other hand, given the company he’s in, he could easily be top man.
But, skipping over that, we come to the main results.
But in 2016, most Jewish voters did not support [Trump; 71% against by this source]. Many more identify as Democrats than Republicans. The partisan views of Israel are different: Democrats (24%) are far less likely than Republicans to say Israel is an ally (59%) of the United States. But among Republicans, religion matters. Republican born-again Christians are even more likely to see Israel as an ally (67%) of the United States.
YouGov posed a false dichotomy, asking only if Israel is an ally or enemy. Why not both, or neither? In any case, born-agains top the list of love, which is no surprise.
The meat is in the survey’s “top lines” (pdf).
A curious question starts the results: “The Holocaust is a myth”. Only 71% “strongly disagree” with that, meaning there is at least some room for doubt in the other 29%. Just 3% strongly agree, and 4% more tend to; 13% are neutral, and 10% tend to disagree. It makes sense, given the interpretation difficulties, to report negatively, i.e. by how many strongly disagree. By difficulties I mean, some will agree the Holocaust happened, but claim many fewer than six million were killed, for example. It’s not entirely clear how these folks would answer the question, but see the next question.
Only 60% strongly disagree that “The Holocaust has been exaggerated”. Exaggerated is a tough word, for it can mean anything from a numerical sense to “used too often as a metaphor”. The latter may be what many had in mind, for 38% strongly disagreed to “Jews exploit Holocaust victimhood for their own purposes”. It went down to 33% swapping in Israel for Jews. Many people do recognize politics when they see it.
An interesting question is “Jews have too much power in America”. Some 6% strongly agree, with another 9% tending to agree; 33% “neither agree nor disagree”, 20% “tend to disagree” and only 32% strongly disagreeing.
Also applicable is “An American Jew is just as American as any other American person”. Only 55% strongly agree, with most of the rest coming somewhere in the middle. The faint wind of dual loyalty?
Now the survey’s existence itself takes a side in the next two questions: “The interests of Jews in America are very different from the interests of the rest of the population” (23% strongly disagree) and “Israel has too much control over global affairs” (21%).
The reason the survey takes a side is there is no similar survey that asks, for instance, “Zambia has too much control over global affairs” or “India has too much control”. Swap in any other country you like, and except for USA and maybe China, or Russia to some on the left, the question wouldn’t make any sense. Say “England has too much control over global affairs” out loud to prove this to yourself.
Thus it is clear Israel has, given its size, at least outsized influence, or at least special importance. The survey numbers are relative to that.
The next most relevant Israel questions: “Israel is the cause of all the troubles in the Middle East” (32% strongly disagree), “Israel is an apartheid state” (18%), “Israel is deliberately trying to wipe out the Palestinian population” (21%), and “Israel is the only real democracy in the Middle East” (7%).
Given apartheid means apartness, then by definition Israel is an apartheid state. Its own laws designate it as a “supremacist” state for Jews. This can hardly be controversial, except that what an apartheid state is is never defined in the survey, and it’s clear some would have taken the word in its worst sense.
As a definitive source for that contention, here is the Times of Israel: “Israel’s Rabbinical Courts Begin to Recognize DNA Tests, Potentially Opening Gateway to Proving Jewishness“. “‘Scientists are reluctant to deal with this since it’s reminiscent of what Nazis did,’ says researcher whose work paved path for use of DNA testing as proof of Jewish heritage.”
Not coincidentally, on the same day this survey was released, this headline also appeared in the Times of Israel, “Netanyahu says he will extend ‘Jewish sovereignty’ to all West Bank settlements.” Whether that counts as trying to “wipe out the Palestinian population” is, again, variable.
It’s also unclear what a “real democracy” is meant to be. There are none anywhere in the strictest sense. The survey writers must have thought that being in this club makes a nation worthy, regardless of the behavior of that country. “The entire population voted to grab some living room? Well, it is a real democracy; therefore, this is fine.”
There were also questions about “anti-Semitism”, the most interesting of which is “How serious a problem is anti-semitism in the United States?” Over half 58%, said “Somewhat serious” or “Very serious”.
There’s no escaping definitions here, either. Meaning there’s no way to tell what the term meant to survey takers. Just as a for instance. There is a growing segment which believes that being against Israel or opposing Israel is “anti-Semitic”, it being tacitly accepted that Israel is a Jewish state. Judea Pearl, a colleague, uses the word “Zionophobia”, which medicalizes opposition.
That’s a neat trick, because if one wants to avoid this scurrilous label, one has to agree with whatever Israel does. I don’t know any other nation that gets so wide a latitude.
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