Letters Feb. 8, 2018


Pew responds to editorial on study regarding Israel

A recent commentary by the editorial board of WJW, “The new Pew study” (Feb. 1), characterizes the findings of a recent Pew Research Center report that examines public opinion towards Israel and the Palestinians (“The new Pew study,” Feb. 1).

Overall, the editorial correctly summarizes the data in the survey. However, it suggests that “there is reason to question some of its conclusions,” and that other research indicates that “a vast majority of Americans still support Israel.” Throughout this report, we were careful to note that one of the questions in the survey asked, regarding the dispute between Israel and the Palestinians, which side the respondent sympathized with more — Israel or the Palestinians. It did not explicitly measure support for Israel (or the Palestinians). In the report, we note that Democrats were divided: 27 percent said they sympathized more with Israel; 25 percent said they sympathized more with the Palestinians; another 23 percent said they sympathized with neither or both sides and 25 percent said they didn’t know. We also report that, over the past year, the share of Democrats saying they didn’t know had increased from 17 percent to 25 percent and the share saying they sympathized with both or neither side had ticked up from 19 percent to 23 percent.

We understand that this forced-choice question about sympathies for Israel and the Palestinians alone does not provide a complete picture of opinions about Israel or the Palestinians. For that reason, we have asked about “sympathy” for Israel and the Palestinians in separate questions (i.e., one about sympathy towards Israel and another about sympathy towards Palestinians, in random order), most recently in March 2015. In that survey, majorities in both parties said they sympathized “a lot” or “some” with Israel, though Republicans were more likely to say this than Democrats.
Director, Political Research



Pew Research Center
A plus for the Constitution
“The new Pew study” (Editorial, Feb. 1) highlighted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s culpability innurturing the current fraught partisan divide when it comes to Americans’ support for Israel.

On the other hand, looking on the bright side: Thank God for Article 2, Section 1 of the Constitution, requiring that the president be a natural-born citizen. If not for it, scandal-ridden Netanyahu, who combines the mealy-mouthed deviousness of a Richard Nixon with the autocratic garishness of a Donald Trump, might be America’s problem rather than Israel’s.


Depth of feelings not measured in survey
The Pew survey only measures attitudes by Democrats and Republicans about Israel (“A matter of sympathy? Pew looks at Israel,” Feb. 1). It does not measure the intensity of the feeling. If the Democrats regain power, they will be much more interested in health care and income inequality than the Palestinians — unless they choose another Barack Obama.


RJC’s role in support for Israel
Overlooked in the otherwise excellent “The New Pew Study” editorial (Feb. 1) is the salient role of the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) as acidic catalyst in corroding the heretofore bipartisan political support for Israel.

Keep in mind that RJC is not a Jewish advocacy/defense group that happens to vote Republican; it’s a GOP organization that targets Jews for outreach. In other words, the objective of the RJC is not to raise Republican awareness of a Jewish community consensus on a given issue, but to persuade Jews to accept the Republican consensus. Indeed, as reported, the RJC even admits that its function is to “educate the Jewish community” about (the GOP line on) “domestic and foreign policy issues,” not to — in addition — educate the GOP about Jewish communal interests and social values.

Thus an elective (pun intended) affinity between the RJC and the Christian right.

According to none other than the late veteran Republican consultant and GOP insider Arthur J. Finkelstein, “The political center has disappeared, and the Republican Party has become the party of the Christian right more so than in any other period in modern history,” as reported in the New York Times, Nov. 11, 2004 .

And who, you might ask, is Mr. Finkelstein, and why does his opinion matter? Because he is the individual whom no less estimable a source than WJW identified as the RJC’s exit survey pollster in a Nov. 14, 2012, piece, “Is 70 percent enough?”

As to his conservative bonafides, Finkelstein has served as a pollster for both Ronald Reagan and Benjamin Netanyahu.
Interestingly, Jews for the Christian Right yields the acronym JRC, which is an anagram of RJC. Coincidence? Hardly.
Newark, Del.


Where polls don’t assess
The WJW editorial critiquing the recent Pew Study on political divisions pertaining to Israel and the Palestinians is very reasonable (“The new Pew study,” Feb. 1).

Building on the Gallup Poll cited by WJW that indicates 61 percent of Democrats view Israel favorably, the 2016 Democratic Party platform stated, “A strong and secure Israel is vital to the United States because we share overarching strategic interests, and the common values of democracy, equality, tolerance and pluralism.”

I wish that there were a poll which asked Jewish respondents of both political parties how they view Israel within the broader context of their own Jewish identities. For this Jewish Democrat, the decision by the Trump administration to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem can never make up for President Donald Trump’s omission of mentioning Jews in last year’s International Holocaust Remembrance proclamation, or the recent U.S. decision to vote against a United Nations resolution which condemned Neo-Nazism.


Candles aren’t enough
“They’d have to cover their buildings with signs” prohibiting guns, according to Darcy Hirsh of the Jewish Community Relations Council (“Law could bring guns to prayer,” Feb. 1).

An Islamic supremacist is going to be stopped by a sign? The worst possible security strategy for a synagogue is to advertise that it is a gun-free zone.

A group of trusted and trained congregants bearing weapons, guns or otherwise, is a basic safety measure for the age in which we live.

On Holocaust Remembrance Day, many of us carried candles. To ensure “Never Again,” some of us will have to carry something more than a candle.

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  1. Yasher koach, Stas Cohen.

    Further corroboration of your insightful analysis: Support for embryonic stem-cell research (and the belief that full human life does not begin at conception) unites Jewry across the board – from the ultra-Orthodox to Secular Humanists and everything in-between: even more so, than the welfare of the State of Israel and how best to safeguard it.

    But when President George W. Bush issued his restrictions on stem-cell research, RJC head Matt Brooks DEFENDED it!

  2. Keep in mind that the RJC is funded by Sheldon Adelson, who also underwrites the far-right, fringe
    Zionist Organization of America.

    In 2011, at its annual gala, the ZOA feted Holocaust trivializer Glen Beck; and former Congresswoman Michele Bachmann- who, on ISRAELI soil, called for all Jews to convert to Christianity! In 2017
    it defended Steve Bannon.

    The RJC, of course, was silent in 2011 and 2017 because …. follow the money.


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