Obama's Israel Stance Fools No One

Friday, 11 Jun 2010 09:29 AM

By Matt Towery

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I'm going to exercise a new freedom with polling. I'm going to take advantage of my experience with a nonpartisan polling firm to ask Americans some hard-hitting questions that can't in fairness be asked by that nonpartisan firm.

So today I'm introducing the first "Towery Poll" of national issues. That means I don't have to worry if some Democratic polling expert likes it or not!

Towery Poll questions will never consist of loaded questions. They will be fair, and the answers will be accurate. What those answers say about America and its politics may sometimes be hard for some to take. So it goes.

The inaugural Towery Poll asked 738 registered voters nationwide about the Obama administration's views and policies regarding Israel. Do Americans believe the White House's foreign policy toward Israel is consistent with that of recent U.S. presidents, or is it either more or less supportive of this traditional American ally?

Forty-four percent of the respondents said it is "less supportive." Twelve percent said "more supportive." Twenty-nine percent said it's "about the same." The rest had no opinion.

A large plurality of Americans senses that the Barack Obama White House doesn't have the same reflexive sympathy and support for Israel that previous administrations have displayed.

It would certainly be understandable if the poll's respondents are perplexed on the subject, particularly after the recent news about longtime White House correspondent Helen Thomas.

The legendary Thomas abruptly retired June 7 after the outcry that followed her comments that Israel's Jews should quit occupying land not rightfully theirs and go back to their historical homes in Poland and Germany. Wow, those European countries are sure to flood the hearts of Jewish men and women with nostalgia!

Over 55 percent of voters who identify themselves as "independents" said they don't think the Obama administration has particularly warm feelings toward Israel. That virtually matches the percentage of Republicans who feel the same way.

Only Democrats feel Israel is in good shape with the president and the current American foreign policy establishment. Forty percent of Democrats in the poll said things are about the same between the U.S. and Israel under Obama. Another 12 percent said the president treats Israel better than recent presidents have.

These numbers simply validate what many diplomats, pundits, and analysts are thinking — that Israel does not have a great friend in Barack Obama.

This makes things even more precarious than usual for the embattled nation of Israel. That nation is under extreme international pressure to lift its (legal) blockade of Gaza. Enforcement of that blockade recently resulted in the deaths of nine people on board a ship that purposely violated the blockade.

Some news accounts of the incident reported that the blockade-busting ship had a crew of nothing but humanitarians who only wanted to bring relief supplies to the suffering people of Gaza. Subsequent revelations have cast that view in doubt. The debate continues, and investigations are under way.

Regardless, is it not reasonable to ask President Obama to cast his gaze back through history and consider when another president used a blockade — and was prepared to use deadly force to maintain it?

In 1962, offensive nuclear weapons were being installed in Cuba by the Soviet Union. President John Kennedy and his advisers decided to create a naval blockade around Cuba to protect against the continued installation of those weapons.

Israel's blockade is designed to end the continued importation of weapons for use by terrorists against Israel. There's little doubt the Gaza blockade has been bloodier than Kennedy's was. But no one could have known that in 1962, when many feared Kennedy's audacity would trigger a nuclear war with the Soviet Union.

Israel's position is straightforward: They are the victims of sustained terrorist acts, such as the bombarding of their homeland with missiles. These acts are made possible, at least in part, by the arming of terrorists through Gaza. Thus, the Israelis do what they can to protect their citizenry.

Peace in the Middle East is ever-elusive and staggeringly complex. Jimmy Carter thought he had opened the door to a permanent peace in the region in the 1970s. Now he is one of Israel's biggest critics, and the conflict smolders on.

Whatever happened during the Israeli clash with the ship trying to breach the Gaza blockade, the fact is that a plurality of Americans believes Obama isn't likely to have Israel's back when conflicts like this arrive.

More importantly, the critical swing vote that supported him in 2008 — independent voters — overwhelmingly view the president as no friend to Israel.

Does that really shock anyone? No. Polls often confirm what our gut already tells us.

Matt Towery is author of the new book, "Paranoid Nation: The Real Story of the 2008 Fight for the Presidency." He heads the polling and political information firm InsiderAdvantage.




© Creators Syndicate Inc.

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