Americans Sympathize With Israel

This is the fundamental reason the Jewish lobby is so strong:

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24 Responses to “Americans Sympathize With Israel”


  • Of course, the Israel-Uni­ted States bond is ‘unbreakab­le’, because the hold that AIPAC, the American agency for the Israel government­, is unbreakabl­e.

    A situation whereby a powerful, moneyed, minority pressure group, acting in the interests of a foreign state, utilises the democratic system of lobbying in order to suborn the democratic way of government in America i.e. to bring about policy decisions of government to advance the cause not of America but of a foreign state, is not a bond but a shackle – a handcuff that binds a nation to accept political decisions that are taken not in the interests of the American electorate­.

    This is a bond that binds all of us to inequality­, injustice and an effective removal of the democratic rights of the majority. It is a bastard bond born out of judicial wedlock.

  • Why wouldn’t we rather conclude that America sympathizes with Israel because of the powerful lobby? What you say is like saying the reason we have a pro-pharmaceutical lobby is because we have pro-pharmaceutical legislation. No. The lobby’s function is to create that legislation. The Israel lobby’s function is to create pro-Israeli public opinion. What this graph shows is that they are pretty good at it.

    When I spoke on the radio with an Israel first right wing talk show host he claimed that Palestinians fire more rockets into Israel than vice versa. In reality during one “peacetime” period Israel launched 9000 rockets and Palestinians launched about 1000. Since then we’ve had the Gaza War. At this point the magnitude of Israeli bombs is so far ahead of Palestinian bombs this guy is off by orders of magnitude. Why would he have such an erroneous picture? Because the lobby is really good at emphasizing Palestinian terrorism and downplaying Israeli terrorism. That creates the American perception that favors Israel.

    The rational conclusion is that you have the causal chain reversed.

  • Jon,

    Many many organizations want poll numbers like this. They all try to influence public opinion through commercials, events, and sponsorship. Yet the Jewish polling still exceeds most of these organizations. Why? It cant be because they have more money – these organizations, companies, corporations are HUGE. Why, for example, aren’t pharmaceutical companies seen as favorably? Or name your own other favorite lobbying group.

    So the source is the polls, and AIPAC builds on this.

    Let me ask you this question: lets assume that I am right and it was polls first, then AIPAC builds on that, how would I go about proving that to you? What would you require to change your views on that?

  • Which lobby group has more money than the Israel lobby? I’m not aware of any.

    I can think of some ways I’d go about trying to show that the lobby is strong because the public is behind Israel. But it’s your argument, not mine. You should think of ways. Sure, support for Israel is high in this country. What would you expect when the Lobby spends astronomical sums on PR? If you are going to claim that the causal direction is public support leads to a lobby you should offer a reason.

  • It’s strong, but I dont see it as particularly strong. If you have proof otherwise, please show me. Amount spent on political races vs other heavy lobbyists groups would be a good metric.

    I ask you what would prove otherwise to you because no proof seems to be adequate. If, for example, you see low poll numbers for the Iraq war – but we went to war anyway, that’s proof to you that the Pro-Iraq war lobby (military, military centered private businesses etc) are strong(which, btw, I tend to agree is an argument in your favor) . If, on the other hand, I show you that public support for a group is high – that too, is proof to you that the lobbying group is powerful. It seems to be a tails you win, heads I lose type argument.

    So hence the question: What would I have to show you to prove otherwise?

  • Well, I’m just spit balling here, but maybe you could look at the opinions of populations that are not subjected to intense Israeli lobbying, but which have similar demographics to persons in the US. Canada comes to mind. Here’s some info.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canada%E2%80%93Israel_relations#Public_opinion_in_Canada_about_relations_with_Israel

    Or maybe take a look at populations that are completely unlike us, but also unlike parties involved in the conflict. Some info here:

    http://www.worldpublicopinion.org/pipa/articles/views_on_countriesregions_bt/325.php?nid=&id=&pnt=325&lb=btvoc

    Another thing you could do is look at the money spent. How much is spent on Israeli lobbying and how much on Palestinian lobbying? Israeli lobbying is not limited to AIPAC and in fact descends top down to a major grass roots effort. Let’s suppose Israeli lobbying is 10X that of Palestinian (it’s probably more). If anything one might be surprised that Palestinian support is so high. Keep in mind that Israeli lobbying is not limited to AIPAC.

  • Jon,

    But that wouldn’t be a proper comparison. Other countries typically have a higher percentage of Arabs vs Jews in their population. This will dramatically affect poll numbers. Also, other countries didn’t get attacked by Arabs, like we did. Again, this would have an affect on poll numbers. And lastly, Jews more than anything, are more prominent in the United States and people are more familiar with them than probably other countries (ie movie directors, actors, etc).

    All big factors in the inter-country comparisons. Again, let me ask you this: why isn’t pharmaceutical companies seen in such a positive light?

    I agree that Israel lobbying is larger than Palestinian lobbying…but it’s probably not the largest of all lobbying. And yet it, and really uniquely it, is seen so favorably. This tells me it’s more, indeed alot more, than mere lobbying. My guess: a receptive audience.

  • Like I said, it’s your argument, not mine. Lobby money is high. Public support is high. So that means public support created the lobbying in your mind. Why do you think that? Forget persuading me. Why do you think that?

    I mean, nothing’s exactly the same. Canada is not the US. 1% in Canada are Jewish. 1% are Arab. In the US we have 1.7% of the population being Jewish and about 1% being Muslim. They aren’t dominant groups in either country.

    Yeah, I think there is no more powerful lobby than the Israel lobby. What leader of a foreign country gets the kind of vociferous applause Netenyahu gets when he speaks in front of Congress? What country gets more military aid (none). What other lobby group can be sure and get every prospective Congressional candidate to sit down with them, and if they have sufficient allegiance they are given a list of names of donors that will max out their contribution? I understand that every Congressmen goes through that.

    Bush Jr tried to cross Israel and got smacked down. Obama tried and got smacked down. Bush Sr tried and got smacked down. Does Abbas utter statements like this:

    http://www.businessinsider.com/israeli-prime-minister-america-is-a-thing-you-can-move-very-easily-2010-7

    Now, why would Netenyahu say that? Read Mearsheimer and Walt. A very reasoned analysis. They show the power. Nothing else can touch them, though I suppose the financials are making a run for it.

  • Its your argument that lobbying money influences public opinion. I am merely pointing out that public opinion is high. If you think its because of lobbying – prove it!

    And you cant just show lobbying money high ==> public opinion is high. Remember, ALOT of companies and groups spend alot on lobbying. Pharmaceuticals is one of them. But there are others. So why isn’t their poll numbers also high?

    You write, Yeah, I think there is no more powerful lobby than the Israel lobby.

    I know you think this – my question is WHY do you think this???

    You write, What leader of a foreign country gets the kind of vociferous applause Netenyahu gets when he speaks in front of Congress? What country gets more military aid (none). What other lobby group can be sure and get every prospective Congressional candidate to sit down with them, and if they have sufficient allegiance they are given a list of names of donors that will max out their contribution? I understand that every Congressmen goes through that.

    I have a simple answer for you – because polling for Israel is SOO high! In other words, your assumptions above beg the question. If a particular issue polls very high, you would expect politicians to be falling over each other to show support. Israel is no different.

    Let me state my view again: I AGREE that the Israel influence is strong. That is NOT what I am arguing against. Here I am questioning the WHY! Why is the Israel influence so strong. I argue – based on the graph above – that it’s because Israel polls so highly! You claim (though haven’t really shown) that it’s because Israel lobbys so heavily.

    The issue we are trying to separate is which is the cause and which is the effect.

    Hence my earlier question that you have yet to answer: what would I have to show you that would prove to you that its the polls that cause the lobbying and influence? Not the other way around.

  • You’re acting like I created a blog post that says the public favors Israel because of the lobby. It is you that generated the blog post here. It is you that says the lobby is powerful because the public supports Israel. Don’t you think this comes with a little bit of a burden?

    And I don’t think the pharmaceutical lobby is ineffective. I think they are very effective. Their job is to create legislation that promotes their industry and also to engage in PR. You don’t think they do that well? Or do you think the pharmaceutical lobby exists because there is so much public support for pharmaceutical behavior, like their patent laws that prevent poor Africans from getting treatment?

    I think if I were to claim that the reason the pharmaceutical lobby exists is because the public loves pharmaceutical companies I’d have to at least offer a reason for thinking that.

    I gave you means of proving the case. You don’t think that’s good enough. OK. So I guess there’s no way to show it’s true in your mind. In that case you shouldn’t claim it is true.

    I’ve had Christians say that. What would convince you Jesus rose from the dead? If you can’t tell me then I guess you’re just too closed minded. Well, unfortunately, some things are hard to know. Even with video evidence I probably would remain doubtful. It would go a long way towards convincing me, but maybe not all the way. Video footage can be doctored after all. Does that mean I’m close minded? I don’t think so. Some things are hard to show. That’s life. We live with it. Since you can’t seem to think of any way to prove your claim, and the suggestions I offer don’t make sense to you, maybe there is no way to show it. I don’t believe that, but if you do, fine. If you don’t believe it can be shown then don’t make the claim.

  • Okay – so now you are backing away from your claim that public opinion is high because of lobbying? Because were both making arguments here (in different directions, but basically the same argument) – but I only see you making the provide proof argument in my direction.

    I am fine with concluding that the data is indecisive. Are you? If not, prove otherwise.

    Their job is to create legislation that promotes their industry and also to engage in PR. You don’t think they do that well? Or do you think the pharmaceutical lobby exists because there is so much public support for pharmaceutical behavior, like their patent laws that prevent poor Africans from getting treatment?

    I can see why they lobby. My point is that if we assume your point of view – that strong lobbying directly translates to high public opinion – we should also see high public opinion for pharmaceuticals as well…is that a fair assumption?

  • No, I’m not backing away from my claim. I’m just saying that you made a claim and you haven’t backed it up. I just think the impetus is on you. You created the blog post and made a claim, but haven’t offered a single piece of evidence to justify the claim. You don’t even offer a theoretical means of testing it.

    I’ve already offered multiple ways of testing it. Look at perceptions in countries that aren’t subjected to lobbying. The difference in demographics is not that significant as I’ve shown. Or look at countries like Japan that have few Arabs and few Jews. Look at the widespread misimpressions people have about the basic facts. Like who launches the most rockets. Is the money disproportionate to the support? That’s something we’d need to look into, but it’s another plausible means of testing the theory.

    Your explanation that AIPAC vets every Congressional candidate is that the public would want such a thing. Really? Does the public even know about that? Did you know? Nobody knows that. That’s something that AIPAC tries to keep under the radar. If it’s unknown why think that it’s happening because it’s strongly desired by the public? Why do you think AIPAC hides it if the public is so supportive?

    What does Netanyahu’s statement mean? Did you click the link? How is it that we can be pushed around?

    For that matter how is it that the US can be compelled to engage in so many policies that undermine our own interests? Does it help us that Israel has nukes? Generally we like to be able to tell countries what to do. We can’t tell Israel what to do. They’ve in the passed suggested they’d go nuclear in cases where we’ve tried to encourage them to adopt a policy that helps us. How does it help us to create conditions that generate so much hostility towards Americans, and all this in the region of the world with the most important energy resources.

    I think I saw a poll that showed there were two countries that favored a US invasion of Iraq without UN authorization. Guess who? Israel and Kuwait. Now, if a policy is favored by Israel but opposed by the American people, and yet that policy is implemented (at a cost of $3 trillion and massive decrease in our own security) what makes best sense of that? Money is the key and Israel has the apparatus that funnels money into Washington. You know the fiscal problems we have in this country. Israel doesn’t share them. Low unemployment. State provided health services. Yet we foot the bill for this war they want. And we send money to Egypt to buy them off so they don’t threaten Israel. I don’t see the American public preferring that. I think a powerful lobby makes the best sense of that. And that’s how lobby’s typically function. They serve the interests of a narrow sector and undermine the desires of the public.

    There’s a lot more. Mearsheimer and Walt get into it a lot. They explain how lobby elements shape public opinion.

  • Couple of points:

    You write, Is the money disproportionate to the support? That’s something we’d need to look into, but it’s another plausible means of testing the theory.

    Agreed. This is the heart of my response.

    You write,Your explanation that AIPAC vets every Congressional candidate is that the public would want such a thing. Really?

    No, its that candidates have a vested interest in pleasing the voters – and voters overwhelmingly favor Israel. So this gives the Israel lobby tremendous power to request such inordinate requests.

    In other words, I am making the claim that the fundamental source of power for Israel is the polls. Even without the lobbying, the polls would be high. Thats what I believe. In order to prove that though, we would (both) have to look into the first point I made above.

    Israel is also very strategic to our interests. See here. It is not as one-sidedlee negative as you claim.

    Lastly, for studies showing the opposite (as far as the limit of lobbying in general), see here.

  • It’s kind of impossible to respond to what you say because you offer no evidence. Voters overwhelmingly favor Israel and this leads to the power of the Lobby and corresponding vetting of Congressional candidates. Fine. I could just as easily assert the opposite without evidence. The Lobby’s power produces overwhelming public support and also puts them in a position where they can vet all candidates. Is this a useful exercise?

    You can nay say what I offer. That’s fine. What you obviously can’t do is provide evidence for your position. We could go back and forth talking about what I offer (because it is at least an argument backed with evidence, whether you agree with it or not). But this is not a subject I raised. I kind of feel like if I make a blog post and offer a controversial claim you should offer evidence. Instead you expect me to prove the opposite. I think I can, but it’s not as if this is a subject I started. I’m not as interested.

    You’ve sent me to this Frum piece before. Frum, if nothing else, is an extremist Israeli hawk. So he thinks Israel is a strategic asset. Not surprising. Measheimer and Walt thoroughly debunk every assertion he makes.

    I like how he pooh-pooh’s terrorist motives. “Some terrorist say they are motivated by the Israel issue.” Yeah, some. Like OBL. It’s only the very first thing he talks about. As if it’s some sort of marginal issue. We were struck first and foremost on 9-11 because of Israel.

    He says it’s great to have Israel out there because they can fight on our behalf. Is that why we begged them not to retaliate against Saddam’s scuds in 1991 because we feared it could provoke the entire Muslim world to turn on us and support Saddam? What really happens is we beg them to stay out of it. The danger is that they won’t listen.

    Anyway, I’m allowing myself to get into it again. Let me step back. This is your argument, not mine. If I have a blog post that claims the Israel lobby drives public opinion I should back it up. You should do the same.

  • Jon,

    It’s kind of impossible to respond to what you say because you offer no evidence. Voters overwhelmingly favor Israel and this leads to the power of the Lobby and corresponding vetting of Congressional candidates. Fine. I could just as easily assert the opposite without evidence. The Lobby’s power produces overwhelming public support and also puts them in a position where they can vet all candidates. Is this a useful exercise?

    Exactly my point. We BOTH have an incomplete proof. You claim your side is stronger than I give it credit for, I say my side is stronger than you give it credit for. But in reality, both sides are incomplete. In order to make it complete YOU would have to bridge the gap (with proof) from lobbying to public opinion. Evidence seems to be against you (see here). But even then, it’s inconclusive.

    In order for me to prove my point, I would have to show you other organizations that spend a lot on lobbying and yet have low poll numbers. A difficult task, since companies would only tend to spend on lobbying if they actually thought it gave them a worthwhile return.

    And on and on we go, when in reality were both right: you haven’t proved your case and neither have I. The only difference is, it is you that bases a lot of your paradigms on your belief that lobbying affects public opinion. I may be wrong in my statement on this initial blog, but really, it’s not that important to my view of the world. So I would expect you to have the stronger evidence for your view but in reality – were both about the same. Inconclusive. I’m fine with that. Are you?

  • You write:

    Exactly my point. We BOTH have an incomplete proof.

    We do not have incomplete proofs. I’ve offered an inductive proof. You reject it. That’s fine. There’s a key difference though between you and me. You have not offered a proof at all.

    Are you hearing me here? There’s a difference between what I’ve done and what you’ve done. I’ve offered an argument. You judge it as bad. That’s one thing. You have not made an argument. Until you make an argument we are not at the same point. Your proof is not incomplete. It doesn’t exist at all.

    Now, with this recent post of your you’ve at least offered something beyond your assertion. You say there is a way to confirm that assertion. This is a theoretical means of testing your claim. You think that if you show that another lobbying organization spent a lot but didn’t have good poll numbers to show for it this would prove that the reason there is a powerful Israeli lobby is because the public drives it and wants it.

    I mean, that to me is completely bizarre. But at least you’re offering something besides an assertion.

    An argument is a particular thing. It’s when you offer premises that serve to support a conclusion. What you had offered is a conclusion. No premises. So not an argument. I’ve offered an argument. Premises. Evidences FOR the conclusion, not the bare conclusion by itself. It’s a key distinction.

  • Jon,

    You write, Are you hearing me here? There’s a difference between what I’ve done and what you’ve done. I’ve offered an argument. You judge it as bad. That’s one thing. You have not made an argument.

    But I have. I linked to this post. That’s a strong start. I would say its about as good as your argument, if not stronger. Again, you don’t like it. But it’s an argument (in fact, it’s an actual study, turned into a book by academics – a rather strong argument, IMHO).

    If lobbying has no power to make policy conclusions, then the real source of Israel legislation (assuming there is, which I believe you would agree) is the voters.

  • Even if lobbying doesn’t work, this doesn’t show that public opinion produced the lobby. I’d call it Logic 101 if I wanted to be an ass hole, but I won’t do that.

  • I’m not here interested necessarily in the proof that public opinion produced the lobbying. I am here more interested in the proof of the limited power of lobbying. I think I have atleast made an argument in favor of that argument (an argument that, I might add, is directly related to your paradigms). To which you have shown very little proof (in comparison).

  • You’re not interested in proving that public opinion produced the lobbying? You’ve got to be kidding me. Let’s look at the entirety of the text that came with this blog post.

    This is the fundamental reason the Jewish lobby is so strong:

    Talk of how lobbying is so ineffective came in the thirteenth comment in the comment stream. We’re to believe that you finally got to the real issue after prompted by multiple comments? Nothing in your blog post has anything to do with demonstrating that lobbying is ineffective. But now we’re to believe that’s really what this is about.

    Here’s what happened. You offered a blog post that made a controversial claim. You could not support that claim and I pointed it out. So now you want to distance yourself from the claim and pretend that claim is really not the issue. Do you really think anybody is buying that? Look, it’s not a big deal. You just kind of made an irrational claim. These things happen. When you dig in like this and try not to acknowledge it, this doesn’t help the situation.

  • I am not denying as such. Scroll above. I specifically stated that I did not prove my case. I said I am fine with that.

    In other words, you are right: the graph above does NOT prove my statement. I will still sleep fine at night tonight though. I am fine with that.

    What I am trying to also get across is that you did NOT prove your case either. In fact, I offered a much stronger rebut than your “proof” for your side. The fundamental difference though, is my lack of proof is on a completely inconsequential part of my view of the world. The lobbying issue, on the other hand, is FUNDAMENTAL to your view of the world. Without it, alot of your view crumbles.

    And let’s not act as if these two issues are completely independent and I am trying to bring in a completely unrelated issue here. The two issues are closely intertwined. So in a way, lobbying is related. But again, let me reiterate: we both did not prove our case.

  • My two cents:

    Basically, I agree with Jon.

    HP was too quick to claim causality without evidence. And it sounds like he’s pretty well ceded that point.

    My (somewhat lame) contribution to this discussion will just be to point out that lobbyists exist mainly to influence legislators, not the general public. That being the case, it seems like a reasonable measure of a lobby’s effectiveness might be to evaluate the difference between public opinion and the voting records of members of Congress on the issue of interest.

    In the case of AIPAC, if we follow that methodology, it seems that the AIPAC lobby is highly effective. I think we can all agree that there is somewhere close to 100% of US legislators whose votes “sympathize more with Israel” – whereas only 48% of the general population apparently feels that way. Therefore, I would agree with Jon that AIPAC is probably not so much a reflection of the general population as HP originally stated it is.

    But I’m perfectly willing to concede that this evidence is not “proof”. (For example, it is true that due to the nature of our electoral system, pretty much all minority opinions are unrepresented or under-represented by Congress to some extent.) So, take it for what it’s worth.

    As a thought experiment, is there any other lobby that is able to transcend parties so effectively as AIPAC, gaining near 100% support from Congress? I can’t think of one off the top of my head.

  • LaurenceB,

    Few comments.

    First, I don’t think it’s a one-to-one mapping between polls and politicians voting record. And by that I mean, let’s say that the public was 60% in favor of legislation A. And say 70% in favor of legislation B. Even though the polling only shows a 10% difference, I would expect there to be more than 10% difference in political support for legislation B vs A. So say legislation A had 65% political support, I would expect legislation B to have near 85% political support. In other words, as the polling gets more above the 50% mark, I expect the political support to go up exponentially – not linearly.

    Why? Because elections are decided within a 5 – 10% voting margin (and probably closer to 5%). The more you go up in the polling, the more you are losing those moderates – and hence, you lose the whole election.

    Second, something to remember is that in the case of the Israel lobby, Israel and Palestine pretty much represent the whole sample space of what is important. And considering that Americans that sympathize with Palestine is 11%!!!, that means that the real way to read the graph is basically: 48% of people will be pissed off if you piss off the Israel lobby, 11% will be happy if you piss off the Israel lobby. This is greater than 4:1 in favor of Israel vs Palestine. At these polling numbers, I am surprised that any politician supports Palestine.

    Take any other issue. Social-security, medicare, higher taxes. In all of these cases, the polling is nowhere near as lopsided as it here. Yet you can’t find any politician – or I should say rarely any politician, and certainly none that wants to gain the presidency – speaking in favor of abolishing social-security, medicare, or raising taxes. It’s a political non-starter.

    To say this another way, I’d like to see anything that polls so low (~11% favorable numbers) having ANY representation in congress. That would be a counterexample, IMHO, to my view that polls are the strength behind the Israel lobby.

  • Geraldine Griffin

    Here’s a suggestion – why don’t the pair of you switch off your computers and join us here in the ‘real’ world. Why you might even visit Ramallah and get a taste of the life the average Palestinian endures?
    On second thoughts, entertaining though it would be, I doubt you’d survive twenty-four hours.
    What a pathetic, self obsessed, duo of navel-gazing …

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