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26 August, 2010 By Rev. Ted Pike

Israel and its PR arm, the Anti-Defamation League, claim that, despite worldwide condemnation of Israel’s attack on the “Free Gaza” flotilla on May 31, support for Israel among the American people remains robust.

Yet early this month, concerned leaders of Israel met to consider a recent Israel-endorsed poll which showed that, as the result of a month of controversy following Israel’s raid, American belief that we need Israel as an ally plunged from 63 percent to 51 percent. “The survey was carried out by pollster and strategist Stanley Greenberg and sponsored by the American-Jewish organization The Israel Project which organizes and executes pro-Israel campaigns with a focus on North America. Greenberg, along with Israel Project heads, presented the poll's findings to senior Israeli officials including President Shimon Peres…” ("U.S. Support for Israel is Decreasing, New Poll Shows," Haaretz, August 10)

If that 12-percent decline is representative of American attitudes in general, it means that, primarily as a result of Israel’s attack, almost 37 million Americans changed their minds, deciding to no longer reflexively support Israel. Result: Nearly one in two Americans (over 150 million) would answer negatively the poll's question, “Does the US need to support Israel?”

Greenberg's poll also reveals a sharp decline in Americans' belief in the sincerity of the government of Israel. Haaretz says that “…in December of 2007, 60 percent of respondents said the [Israeli] government…was committed to peace with the Palestinians.” By July, 2010, one month after the raid, “only 45 percent of Americans said they felt Netanyahu was committed to the peace process.”

“Greenberg has analyzed the poll results and says that the section of the American public where Israel is most rapidly losing support is among liberal Americans who align themselves with the Democratic party.”

Israel is having to face the fact that not only Europeans but also millions of Americans do not buy Israel’s spin that Israeli commandoes, armed with machine guns, were innocently victimized by kitchen knife and baton-wielding activists when they boarded the largest vessel, the Mavi Mamara. Clearly, millions reject Israel's claim she had no option but to shoot more than 50 with live ammunition, killing nine.

Israel Bans Testimony of Commandos and Survivors

Israel’s credibility also suffers because of her refusal to allow UN investigators of the flotilla attack access to testimony by IDF soldiers participating in the raid. To this point, Israel’s in-house investigation has only allowed testimony by senior military officials. But now The Jerusalem Post headlines an AP article, “Israel Uncooperative in UNHRC Probe.” (The Jerusalem Post, August 24) While the UN Human Rights Council is now actually interviewing flotilla survivors of the attack, Israel continues to refuse to allow any investigative team access to the Navy commandoes who carried out the early dawn attacks on the flotilla. Israel says it has nothing to hide and its own investigation, lead by retired Israeli Supreme Court Justice Jacob Turkel, will reveal the truth. Yet as long as Israel refuses to allow Turkel to interview IDF soldiers or survivors, as well as forbidding UN commissions access to Israeli Navy commandos, it is inevitable that not only world opinion, but now American opinion, may reasonably suspect that Israel has much to hide. As long as the Netanyahu government continues such obstruction, it is inevitable that Israel’s credibility will decline.

According to the Greenberg poll, “anti-Semitism” is very high in Europe with 50 percent of Germans experiencing “very cold” or “unfavorable” feelings toward Israel; 49 percent of Swedes feel “cold” or “very cold” toward the Jewish state. ADL/Israel claim such antipathy is stimulating acts of bigotry and violence against Jews in Europe. Of course, it is deplorable when, in reaction to Israel’s arrogance and inhumanity toward the Palestinians, violence erupts against innocent Jews. The reality, however, is that, unless the world’s righteous indignation rises, there is little to restrain Israel from further violations of human rights, international law and UN resolutions. Israel will only expand illegal settlements, expropriating and further persecuting the Palestinians, as well as militarily violating national boundaries of its neighbors and carrying out foreign assassinations.

Over the past several weeks, Israel has been poised with a very itchy trigger finger, straining for an opportunity to attack Iran. Iran is doing what most nations of Europe have been forced into: emerge from inefficient fossil fuel sources of the “green” late 20 th century and return to the nuclear power alternative. Israel, however, says Iran really wants to make atomic weapons to destroy Israel. Such WMDs are what Israel also convinced us Saddam Hussein possessed, persuading America to launch military action in Iraq 10 years ago. Such weapons didn't exist. Following 9/11, Israel also intensely encouraged America that we could destroy Osama bin Laden and end the Islamic terrorist threat in Afghanistan. Actually, in all these ploys Israel has only one intention: utilizing America's military might to make the Mid-East safe for Israel. The cost in American lives and suffering is unimportant. America went seriously astray by believing Israel to be credible then. Will we continue to do so?

It could well be that, had it not been for the restraining influence of negative world opinion, Israel might now be plunging the Mid-East and America into a new dimension of Mid-East conflagration with truly catastrophic global consequences. Israel may be held back now only because its government is terrified of even more bad PR.

It is clear that, in cases of Israel’s clearest wrongdoing, constructive criticism is the furthest thing from actual anti-Semitism.

Such criticism of Israel is good.


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