Friday, January 13, 2017

Leading or Following? Democrats and Obama on Israel

From the Pew Center, an assessment of US attitudes in the Arab/Israeli conflict. As you can see (below), the pattern is clear. While Republicans continue to support the Jewish state, Democrats have moved against Israel, and now are as likely to favor the Palestinians as Israel.

So the question arises: are Democrats following people like Barack Obama, whose disdain for the Jewish state has been quite obvious, or does Obama’s disdain for Israel merely reflect a shift among Democrats generally?

Why Democrats should dislike Israel is something that needs to be explained. For most of the 20th century, Jews had the status of a politically correct victim group (although the term “political correctness” wasn’t in general use).  Liberals prided themselves on opposing antisemitism.

So what has changed?

Essentially, there is been a shift in the axis of liberal identity politics. In most of the 20th century liberals proudly supported Jews, blue collar workers and Catholics was well as blacks. But blue collar workers and Catholics have moved in a conservative direction. Jews continue to vote Democratic, but now they are much harder to portray as a victim group. They have succeeded too well in American society, and discrimination against Jews is extremely rare.

So what victim group have liberals latched onto? The Palestinians. They can be portrayed as victims, while Israel is a successful, modern, affluent state.

Siding with people who really are victims is certainly a virtue. But liberals have huge trouble dealing with groups whose problems are of their own making. They continue to portray the problems of the black community as the result of white racism. But the things that most afflict black people are a 72% illegitimacy rate and an absurdly high rate of crime by blacks who victimize other blacks. Liberals want blacks to be victimized by other people, and are embarrassed by discussion of how blacks are victimized by the bad behavior of other black people.

Likewise with the Palestinians. Liberals can’t admit that they are victimized by their own unwillingness to accept the state of Israel, their own support of terrorism, and corruption among their own leaders. It can’t be that their own bad behavior is the problem, so somebody must be oppressing them. And that “somebody” is Israel.

Thus the intellectual bad habits of liberals in domestic US politics have spilled over into international relations.

Democrats now about as likely to sympathize with Palestinians as Israel

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