Israel’s reluctance to make more concessions at the negotiating table will bring down upon it “an increasing delegitimization campaign,” Secretary of State John Kerry recently warned at a press conference in Munich. Israel is finding itself “isolated” and treated as a “pariah” state, according to New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman and other pundits.
Such statements have understandably provoked concern within Israel, and among friends of Israel around the world. A small country that is surrounded by terrorists, well-armed dictators and violent regional upheavals naturally worries about how it is perceived, and how it will be treated, by the international community in general – and by the American public in particular.
But a new Gallup Poll throws some cold water on those warnings. Gallup’s annual World Affairs survey, conducted between Feb. 6 and 9, asked Americans whether
they view various countries favorably or
The Gallup poll found fully 72 percent of Americans have a “very favorable” or “mostly favorable” view of Israel.
Now compare that to the number who have a favorable view of the other countries in Israel’s neighborhood: Egypt, 45 percent; Saudi Arabia, 35 percent; Libya, 19 percent; Palestinian Authority, 19 percent; Iraq, 16 percent; Syria, 13 percent; Iran, 12 percent.
Despite decades of critical news media coverage of Israel; despite the Obama administration’s frequent statements of sympathy for the Palestinian Arabs; despite the torrent of anti-Israel resolutions by the United Nations, by radical academics and by certain churches — despite all this, nearly three-quarters of Americans remain favorable towards Israel while fewer than one-fifth think favorably of the Palestinian Authority.
Whether one views Secretary Kerry’s controversial statement as an attempt to browbeat Israel, or as a sincere expression of friendly concern, the facts speak for themselves: He is wrong. Israel is not isolated – at least not here in America, where it counts most.
And frankly, that makes sense.
Most Americans recognize that Israel is a lot like the United States – and the Arab countries are not. Israel is a democracy; the Arab regimes are dictatorships, theocracies, and kingdoms. Israelis have the same freedoms that Americans enjoy – a free press, religious tolerance, political rights. The Arab world falls woefully short in those areas. Israel embraces Western culture and considers itself part and parcel of the Western world. By contrast, many in the Arab and Muslim countries regard the West as their enemy.
When it comes to the rights of women and minorities, too, Israel shines. In Israel, women have full equality. In much of the Arab world, women are treated as little
better than men’s.
Arab citizens of Israel have the same rights as Jewish citizens. As for Jewish citizens in Arab countries – there are almost none left because almost all 800,000 of them were driven out, decades ago, with just the clothes on their backs.
So long as the Arab regimes continue to reject American values, they can expect more poll results like the ones Gallup just announced.
Moshe Phillips and Benyamin Korn, the former executive editor of the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent, are president and chairman, respectively, of the Religious Zionists of America-Philadelphia Chapter