The new American Jewish Committee poll of 800 self-identified American Jews shows a marked decline in support for President Barack Obama (Ali Gharib and Jim Lobe have discussed this finding), but the most interesting part of the poll might lie in the increasing support for a United States or Israeli military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Is this evidence that the campaign led by Iran hawks at various Washington based think-tanks and through AIPAC’s extensive influence in Congress is paying off?
Compared to previous years, it’s pretty clear that attacking Iran has grown considerably in popularity.
A graph of the poll results from 2005, the year the AJC first asked the question about a U.S. attack on Iran, to 2010, shows a steady decline in support from 2005 to 2007 and a dramatic increase in support from 2007 to 2010.
The drop in support from 2005 to 2007 could possibly be explained by the overwhelming Jewish dissatisfaction with the execution of the war in Iraq. In 2002, 59-percent of Jews polled by the AJC supported military action to remove Saddam Hussein from power and 36-percent disapproved. By 2005, only 28-percent approved of the war and 70-percent disapproved. By 2007, 27-percent of respondents said the invasion of Iraq was the right thing to do while 67-percent said the United States should have stayed out. Clearly the period from 2005-2007 marked a high-point for Jewish Americans expressing war weariness with what was promised to be a “cakewalk to Baghdad.”
But come 2008, violence had waned considerably and Iraq virtually disappeared from the U.S. media. Calls for military action against Iran could gain more traction.
Changes in support for an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities are harder to track since the AJC only started asking the question in 2009. Yet, it is interesting to note that support for both an Israeli or U.S. attack rose noticeably in the eight months between the polls taken in 2010. During this time frame, there has been a daily barrage of op-eds calling for tighter sanctions, demands for keeping the “military option on the table,” and high-profile discussions on the possibility of Israel “going it alone”(see Jeffrey Goldberg’s Atlantic cover story discussing such a scenario).
The same neoconservatives who downplayed the potential cost of the Iraq war, promised that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, and theorized that the road to Middle East peace “runs through Baghdad,” have now dusted off their talking points and fixed their sights on Iran.
* In 2002 the question was worded as “Do you approve or disapprove of the United States taking military action against Iraq to try and remove Saddam Hussein from power?.” In 2006 and 2007 the question was worded as “Looking back, do you think the United States did the right thing in taking military action against Iraq, or should the U.S. have stayed out?.