A recent American Jewish Committee poll of 800 self-identifying American Jews showed decreasing support for President Barack Obama and his Middle East policies. While his handling of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the economy were also concerns, the prominent trend of growing U.S. Jewish support for an attack on Iran was most striking.
We covered the poll, via the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, in our October 12 Daily Talking Points, but here is some further analysis from our colleague Jim Lobe where he calls upon Harvard political scientist Stephen Walt‘s take on the numbers:
Support for U.S. military action against Iran “to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons… if diplomacy and sanctions fail” rose from 53 percent to 59 percent since last March, while opposition to such a course fell from 42 percent to 35 percent over the same period.
As recently as its 2008 survey, the AJC found that 47 percent of respondents opposed an attack, while a 42-percent plurality supported one.
“I don’t think these results are surprising, especially given the drumbeat of Islamophobia in the American media, the constant pounding on the Iran threat by Israeli politicians and their supporters here, and the Obama administration’s repeated failure to explain what it thinks it is doing in the Middle East,” said Stephen Walt, a Harvard international relations expert and co-author of the controversial 2007 book, “The Israel Lobby”.
“They’ve let their critics define the narrative, while doing nothing to give anyone on either the left or the right any confidence in their leadership,” he added. “If I’d been asked, I’d have said my approval of the job he’s doing was pretty low, too, though I obviously don’t agree with the idea of attacking Iran.”
The survey suggested that the hawkish views of the right- wing leadership of major Jewish organisations, including the AJC itself, have been gaining traction with the more-liberal Jewish public over the last eight months.