Pollwatch

09.11.12

Is Israel Already Being Politicized?

Democratic Party chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said recently that “there has never been and will never be daylight between the two parties” on Israel. That may be true among the party establishments, and on some issues like aid to Israel, but that doesn't mean there aren't divergences between the parties' bases.

Israel is actually one of the few places of partisan divergences on foreign policy. A Chicago Council on Global Affairs poll (PDF; discussed here) found little different on most global issues, but more on Israel than other issues. Under the heading "Israel: Republican Ally?", the Council's poll analysts wrote:

Israel is one of the largest points of difference. Large majorities of Democrats (78%) and Independents (69%) favor not taking sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, while a slight majority of Republicans (51%) want to take Israel’s side. Likewise, if Israel and Iran were to go to war following an Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear facilities, a majority of Democrats (66%) and Independents (65%) favor staying out, while a majority of Republicans (54%) favor the United States entering the conflict on the side of Israel.

Although Republicans have historically been more willing for the United States to take Israel’s side in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict over the past ten years than Democrats and Independents, this view has been strengthening over time. The number of Republicans who say the United States should take Israel’s side has increased 12 points over the past decade, while the low level of support for such a policy among Democrats and Independents has remained relatively constant.

Two such issues shot to the fore over the last several weeks as the parties debated and released their platforms. On the Democratic side, officials pushed through a platform amendment recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital, despite clear splits among delegates. On the Republican side, delegates to the platform drafting committee tried again and again to delete the two-state solution from their own platform, but were rebuffed by top Romney campaign officials.