Americans (Especially Republicans) Know Who Their Friends Are

by Clifford D. May

But that wasn’t always the case. Bill Kristol writes:

Now we know who constitutes the real Israel lobby: the American public. Especially the Republican-leaning part of it.

Consider the results of a new poll. . . . What the survey shows is this: The American people strongly support the state of Israel, and want their elected representatives to do so as well. An astounding 93 percent of those polled say the United States should be concerned about the security of the state of Israel. A majority — 54 percent — say the U.S. should be “very concerned” about Israel’s security. Virtually the same number care that their elected representatives be pro-Israel. . . .

The bottom line: The public is strongly pro-Israel. But the public consists basically of two groups. The GOP/conservative/Fox News-viewing part of the public is overwhelmingly pro-Israel. The Democratic/liberal/New York Times-reading part of America is . . . comme-ci, comme-ca.

Over 50 years ago, conservatives and Republicans were not so pro-Israel. Indeed, the newly founded conservative magazine, National Review, was hostile to Israel. This prompted the political philosopher Leo Strauss to write an unusual letter to the editor, published in National Review’s January 5, 1957 issue. There Strauss remarked on his agreement with many articles appearing in National Review, but he expressed his incomprehension at the magazine’s hostility to Israel. He noted that if you were attached to the Bible, you should be attached to Israel; if you wanted to stand against “the tide of ‘progressive’ leveling,” you should stand with Israel; and that if you cared about the West, you should care about Israel.

Much to their credit, National Review, and American conservativism more broadly, long ago took these admonitions to heart. American conservatism is now unequivocally pro-Israel. In large part thanks to this fact, the American public as a whole is solidly pro-Israel. It is American liberals who are divided and uncertain.

Jennifer Rubin has some additional thoughts here.