As President Barack Obama is set to leave office on Friday, a disturbing new survey of Americans' attitudes toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict suggests liberals, independents and millennials are turning against Israel.
The survey, conducted by McLaughlin & Associates on behalf of Middle East expert and New York Times bestselling author Joel C. Rosenberg, a dual citizen of Israel and the U.S., polled 1,000 voters about President Obama's decision to abstain rather than veto a resolution in December 2016 condemning Israeli settlements in the disputed territory of the West Bank.
The survey was conducted on Jan. 16 as Donald Trump, who urged that the U.S. veto the resolution, prepared to replace Obama as president.
"President Trump and Vice President Pence are expected to be strongly pro-Israel, and that's encouraging—but growing numbers of liberals, independents and young people are breaking against Israel," said Rosenberg, a former aide to several American and Israeli leaders and the author of the forthcoming political thriller Without Warning. "This is just one more element of President Obama's disastrous foreign policy legacy. He did some good things vis-à-vis Israel. But far too often, he was castigating Israel as the major problem in the Middle East rather than supporting them as America's most important and faithful ally. You reap what you sow.
"The mounting evidence is clear: as liberals in Washington, academia and the media are becoming more hostile towards Israel, liberal support for Israel at the grassroots level is cratering," Rosenberg added. "This is a serious strategic challenge, and one Israeli leaders and American friends of the Jewish state urgently must analyze and address."
Although a plurality of Americans (37 percent) said Obama was wrong to betray Israel, a large number of Americans (29 percent) said Obama was right. Perhaps even more troubling for supporters of Israel, 25 percent said they could not decide between the two arguments, and nearly one in 10 said they did not care about the Israeli-Palestinian issue.
Of self-described liberals, 53 percent supported Obama's action. Among those describing themselves as "very liberal," 56 percent wanted Washington to get even tougher on Israel, representing a shift in views over the last decade. Pew Research Center found in 2001 that approximately half of self-described liberal Democrats said they sympathized with Israel.
Moreover, this new study showed nearly one in four independents (23 percent) agreed with Obama's harsh approach towards Israel. So did 33 percent of Catholics and 41 percent of millennials (ages 18-29).
Those surveyed were asked:
Which of the following statements is closest to your personal views about U.S. policy towards Israel?
- I believe that President Obama was right to abstain on the recent U.N. Security Council vote that condemned Israel.
- I believe President Obama was wrong for throwing Israel under the bus at the U.N. Security Council.
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