Their ignorance is our enemy
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A recent Israel Project Poll has good news and bad news about support for Israel in the USA, and many important lessons. The most important lessons:
Overwhelming support for Israel
Grass roots support for the Arab cause is a myth
"Leftists" support Israel too
Disengagement was very helpful in recruiting support for Israel
Ignorance is out there, and it is our biggest enemy. Ignorance is the bliss of the bad guys.
Overwhelming support for Israel - The overwhelming majority of American voters support the position of the US and Israel that sanctions should be enacted against Iran for its nuclear policy - 78%. According to a rating system used in the poll, Americans are overwhelmingly "warm" toward Israel, and "cool" toward Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas and the Palestinians. 53% identified themselves as supporters of Israel, while only 5% identified themselves as supporters of the Palestinians. 80% of respondents agreed that Jews deserve a homeland, and only 12% said that it would be better if Jews left Israel to satisfy demands of extremists. 63% believe Israel was justified in its response to the Hezbollah in Lebanon, while only 20% said it was not justified. 63% believe that Islamic extremism is responsible for the conflict, while only 15% blame it on Israel.
The anti-Zionist bandwagon is hokum - Anti-Israel and anti-Semitic groups have made a great deal of noise lately. They have tried to create the impression that "real" public opinion is against Israel in the US, and that only the sinister machinations of the "Israel lobby" have been subverting US policy to support Israel. They have done this through boycott initiatives, petitions about "Zionism equal Racism," demonstrations for Hezbollah and on-campus rallies for a one-state "solution." Manifestly, it is not true. Americans support Israel by an overwhelming margin. By "making a lot of noise," the forces of darkness have gotten a few people to jump on their bandwagon. We have to make sure people know the truth.
Disengagement Dividend - The pollsters have tracked US public opinion changes and concluded that Israeli disengagement from Gaza was a major factor in convincing people that Israel was sincere about peace, whereas Palestinians are not. To that extent, we have to recognize that the disengagement policy succeeded in a very important part of its mission, despite the security headaches it created. Israel must not abandon the quest for peace, and must make it clear that it is ready for peace at every opportunity, and constantly test the propaganda of the other side. If it is lies, we must show it up for what it is. If there really is a peace partner out there, that partner must be supported and encouraged. That does not mean that Israel has to blindly "take risks for peace."
"Leftists" support Israel too - Another lesson of this poll that must be studied by Israel advocates is that Israel supporters come from all parts of the political spectrum, and that a large part of that spectrum is liberal or identifies with the Democratic party. The myth accepted by many on both sides is that "Zionism" is a cause of the right and "anti-Zionism" is a cause of the "left." 49% of the sample identified themselves as either Liberal, Democrats, or "independent lean to Democrats." Even if their political parties and leaders do not always support Israel, left of center votes do.
The big lesson: Ignorance is our enemy - The bad news is that this support is vulnerable. It is vulnerable because of the vast ignorance of Americans and others about the Middle East. We easily fall into the error of thinking we are at the center of everyone's concerns, but it is not so. 14% of the respondents, all voters with reasonable education, could not identify the Palestinians. 8% could not identify Israel. 20% of the respondents had never heard of Hezbollah. 25% admitted they had never heard of Hamas. 27% admitted that they knew little or nothing about Iran and the nuclear program crisis! Nonetheless, 77% of those who admitted knowing little or nothing about the Iran nuclear development issue, were for sanctions against Iran, only slightly less than the 79% of more knowledgeable people who supported sanctions. To have an opinion, you do not need to know anything it seems; it works both ways of course, in Europe as in the USA.
The ignorance is probably much deeper than the polls indicate. Of those who did hear about Hezbollah and Hamas, it is doubtful if many know about the Hamas charter or the Hezbollah program, which announce the goals of destroying Israel. How many of those who could identify Israel, know how big (or little) Israel is? How many of those who heard of the Palestinians, really know the history of the conflict, and know, for example, about the Nazi activities of the Grand Mufti, Hajj Amin el Husseini?
Israel is far away from Europe and the USA, and is not a central concern. Until 9-11 forced people to look at the Middle East, not that many people outside of the Middle East really thought about the problem.
Public opinion is fickle. Support that is not grounded in basic understanding can be easily swayed by the next fantastic claim about Israeli "massacres" as happened with the Jenin 'massacre' hoax and is happening to some extent with the false propaganda spread about "civilian casualties" in Lebanon. Ignorant people are also vulnerable to adopting fake mythologies about intentional "Zionist dispossession" of Palestinian Arabs (see Zionism and its impact".
People who do not know about the anti-Israel campaign of the UN on the "Question of Palestine" can be persuaded perhaps by the next condemnations of Israel to take the Palestinian side? Such condemnations will certainly be forthcoming from the United Nations owing to the Arab lobby and the Division for Palestinian rights, which operate safely under the cloak of general ignorance. How many people ever heard of the "Division for Palestinian Rights" and what it does? It may "sound good" to an ignorant person. After all, everyone should have rights, no?
Next to ignorance of others, the apathy and complacency of Israel's supporters are our biggest enemies. We can't take it for granted that "everyone knows" all the things that we know, and then get angry when people who were sold myths by the other side reproach Israel with imaginary crimes. If people don't know, it is our responsibility to make them know. We can't simply protest about anti-Israel boycotts and anti-Israel petitions. We have to make our own petitions to keep the issues on the public agenda and make sure people are aware of the facts. (Speaking of which - please remember to sign and publicize the Petition for Fair Play for Israel at the United Nations"
We believe that truth is on our side. We all must work tirelessly to ensure that everyone knows the truth.
Ami IsseroffComing soon at ZNN:Which expert on Islam or Israel to trust? A guide to the perplexed - The experts don't agree - which "Rabbi" should you follow? http://www.zionism-israel.com/log/archives/00000250.htmlCan the UN be ignored? - Gregory Levey explains why Israel doesn't care about UN anti-Israel activities, but we ignore the UN at our own peril - and a cost in blood. http://www.zionism-israel.com/log/archives/00000249.html
NYT Report: UN is in Lebanon to defend Hezbollah against Israel - Unbelievable as it sounds, that's what UN force commanders say. http://www.zionism-israel.com/log/archives/00000248.htmlWhat is dialogue? - Can it be dialogue if only one side is heard? asks Ratna Pelle. http://www.zionism-israel.com/log/archives/00000247.html
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Shana Tova - Moadim Lesimcha!