Do President Obama’s attitudes toward Israel simply reflect his own biases or do they reflect a shift in broader American attitudes toward Israel? It’s a fair question to ask.
Writing in US News & World Report, John Farrell points out that, “It has been more than 60 years since the victors of World War II agreed to the establishment of a Jewish state in the Middle East. The members of the great generation that fought and won the war are mostly gone. I bet that 100 times as many Americans could name the judges on American Idol as could identify David Ben-Gurion or Harry Truman.”
Farrell has a point. While support for Israel remains strong among older Americans whose attitudes have been shaped by events long past, there is a growing segment of the population that doesn’t share them. Indeed, Barack Obama himself is in that group. Islamic influences on him as a child aside, there is little in his experience that fostered positive attitudes toward Israel or Israelis.
For most of the 30 odd years since the Camp David Accords, and especially since the First Intifada, Israel hasn’t been seen as a nation struggling for survival but as party to on-and-off negotiations about land, refugees, and issues few Americans really understand or appreciate. When violence breaks out between Palestinians and Israelis the media tends to show Israeli solders killing Palestinian civilians while it shows Palestinian youth throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers.
While the American people, since 9/11 the victims of Islamic terrorism themselves, have gained a greater appreciation for what Israelis have experienced for decades, I’m not sure this has increased support for Israel. Increasing numbers of Americans buy into the argument, as General Petraeus apparently has, that solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is essential to changing Islamist-Jihadist attitudes toward Americans. Israel, therefore, becomes more an obstacle to peace than an ally.
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Filed under: Uncategorized, american idol, david ben-gurion, harry truman, israel, jewish state, middle east, Obama, us news and world report, world war II