It is standard fare for those who ardently wish that Israel would disappear from the world’s map that US support for the embattled state is furtively procured by the “Zionist Lobby,” a nefarious cabal of you-know-whos that manipulates our government against our national interest. This sort of stuff is the noxious glue that binds together neo-Nazis and some left-wing professors, fueling many of the efforts to boycott Israel that are the rage in certain circles.
A recent Gallup poll, however, reinforced yet again what polling has long shown; the real reason America supports Israel is that Americans do. The survey found that 62 percent of Americans declare their sympathies with Israel, while only 15 percent align with the Palestinians. Those numbers have largely remained constant for the past decade, but the gap has actually widened since 2000, when Americans favored Israel over the Palestinians by a mere 3-1 margin.
Nor is it only aging Republicans who overwhelmingly support Israel over the Palestinians. Gallup found that Democrats support Israel by a 54 percent to 23 percent margin, and 18- to 29-year-olds do so by a virtually identical one.
It cannot have heartened those who hope support for Israel will wane that a whopping 18,700 Americans traveled to Washington, DC, earlier this week for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual meeting, making it the largest in the organization’s history. The crowd’s size led Vice President Joe Biden to open his remarks with the admiring quip: “My Lord. Where the hell is next year’s venue going to be?”
Hillary Clinton’s address to the huge gathering came as an administration that has often disappointed pro-Israel Americans draws to a close. President Obama took office as Hamas was launching a large-scale attack on Israeli civilians with thousands of missiles, and he prepares to depart as the Palestinians begin what is Month 5 of a campaign of plunging knives into innocent people on Israeli streets, egged on by the Palestinian leadership and supported by a decisive majority of the Palestinian population.
The president that Clinton served as secretary of state spent the intervening years giving the Palestinians a free pass, guaranteeing them that incitement to murder and murder itself would trigger no unfavorable consequences, thereby guaranteeing as well that the incitement and the murder would continue.
Clinton has some baggage of her own, including her association with the amoral adviser Sidney Blumenthal and his unhinged son Max, whose odious career consists of accusing Israel of resembling the Nazis — because security fences designed to prevent civilians from being blown to pieces have ever so much in common with gas chambers designed to exterminate people.
Still, Clinton received a hero’s welcome from the AIPAC crowd, many of whom appreciated that she has stood up to the MoveOn.org wing of the Democratic Party, which is so disposed to mouth drivel when it comes to Middle East issues.
“Iran’s continued aggression, a rising tide of extremism across a wide arc of instability and the growing effort to delegitimize Israel on the world stage, are converging to make the US-Israel alliance more indispensable than ever,” Clinton told the crowd less than 24 hours before the latest example of Islamist terror would shake Belgium, painfully illustrating her point. The audience included large numbers of Republicans who, whatever their coolness toward Clinton, know that she at least knows what she is talking about, and also know, hearts heavy about what has happened to their party, that Donald Trump does not.
It’s been a challenging period for AIPAC, which has weathered withering criticism from Israel’s enemies and frostiness from the Obama team. But the size of AIPAC’s annual meeting and the robust support that Israel continues to enjoy in the United States indicates that Israel’s case is strong, and that it has no shortage of Americans prepared to make it.
This piece was originally published in the Boston Herald.