THE BLOG
08/04/2014 01:49 pm ET Updated Oct 01, 2014

Israel and Russia: Rogue States in Public Opinion?

Two recent blog posts by Aaron Blake on the Washington Post website (July 22, "What Russia and Israel Have in Common" and July 29, "Young Americans Take a Dim View of Israel's Actions") should give pause to any assumption in Israel that the American public -- and American media -- will support whatever the Israeli government is doing in conflicts with the Palestinians. Moreover, the leadership style of Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu invites some odious comparisons.

Based on Pew Research Center polling, Blake reported on July 29 that when it comes to views of what's happening in Israel, there is a large generational split over the assault on Gaza:

While all age groups north of 30 years old clearly blame Hamas more than Israel for the current violence, young adults buck the trend in a big way. Among 18- to 29-year-olds, 29 percent blame Israel more for the current wave of violence, while 21 percent blame Hamas.

Young people are more likely to blame Israel than are Democrats (even liberal Democrats are split 30-30). The only other major demographic groups who blame Israel more than Hamas are African Americans and Hispanics.

As reported by Blake, the Pew poll was consistent with a recent Gallup survey: When Americans were asked whether they thought Israel's recent actions were justified, older Americans clearly sided with Israel, but 18- to 29-year-olds said by a two-to-one margin that its actions were unjustified. NOTE: No other group was as strongly opposed to Israel's actions.

Blake quoted Ron Fournier of The National Journal on the demographic split:

[I]t's a warning that Israel's decades-old public relations and political dominance is coming to an end unless the nation's leaders change the narrative and reset their strategic position with moderate Palestinians.


In the earlier July 22 report, Blake pointed out that a majority of Americans now see Russia as the United States' top foreign adversary. Moreover, the case was made, Russia is actually in good company -- with one of America's top allies: Israel.

Blake cited a recent CNN/Opinion Research poll indicating 38 percent of Americans now have an unfavorable view of Israel. Not surprising when, before the world in recent weeks, Israel has waged an air/ground assault in Gaza resulting in a lopsided death toll alone of over 1,500 Palestinians. And climbing.

Of course, a majority of Americans still have a positive view of Israel. But the American public's opposition to what Israel is doing in Palestine has been on the rise, given the nightly television newscasts of the indiscriminate bombing and shelling of Palestinians.

When asked in the CNN poll whether Israel has used too much military force in Gaza, about four in 10 Americans (39 percent) agreed, while slightly more (43 percent) said it has used about the right amount--as of last week. It would appear that Prime Minister Netanyahu's contention on American TV that "the tunnels force us to do it" is not going down. Nor are the IDF lies about "pin-point" bombing of targets in Gaza designed to avoid civilian casualties.

Blake poses the question: Does the increased resistance to Israel have more to do with war-weariness among Americans than reaction to the current invasion of Gaza? Without question, there is a lot of violence over which to be traumatized in the world today: Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria. And, most prominently, there is Russia's active support across international borders of aggression against the established government of Ukraine.

Moscow blatantly lies about it on the world's TV screens, despite a documented contradictory, undermining narrative on the same newscasts! The president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, contemptuously dismisses the efforts of the White House and the State Department to preserve peace in Europe. Putin is the master of the "big lie" technique, denying direct military intervention and responsibility for the role of mercenary thugs in killing in Ukraine. Who is to stop Russia?

The Israeli leader is often not respectful of the top leaders of the American government. Over the years the haughty Netanyahu has presumed to lecture President Obama, even while a guest of the White House. More recently, after a barrage of government-inspired media criticism of Secretary of State Kerry while the latter was in Israel trying to secure a ceasefire, the State Department spokeswoman complained: "It's simply not the way partners and allies treat each other."

Like Putin, Netanyahu comes across as a "my way or the highway" rogue, disdainful of international law and organizations while committing gross human rights violations -- such as killing bunches of children in UN schools. Who is to stop Israel?

With allies like Netanyahu, who needs enemies like Putin? No wonder the American people are world-weary.