Americans’ support for Israel is grassroots

Just came across this excellent piece, written about a month and a half ago by Elliot Abrams.

How disturbing, and how illogical, are recent words by none other than eminent mideast affairs columnist Thomas Friedman discrediting AIPAC and the grassroots support of Israel that comes from Americans of all persuasions. Because I spent the past couple of months a bit unfocused, I am belatedly catching up on some of the nonsense that’s been circulating.

What the h%^& is wrong with Thomas Friedman? This, from his December 13 column in The New York Times:

I sure hope that Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, understands that the standing ovation he got in Congress this year was not for his politics. That ovation was bought and paid for by the Israel lobby. The real test is what would happen if Bibi tried to speak at, let’s say, the University of Wisconsin. My guess is that many students would boycott him and many Jewish students would stay away, not because they are hostile but because they are confused.

The idea that Americans do not, by and large, support Israel due to their own honest convictions is untrue, and I suspect a man of Mr. Friedman’s intellect knows this. The only way someone could actually believe that support for Israel in the U.S. Congress is “paid for” – despite much evidence to the contrary – is some kind of prejudice.

Regarding Mr. Friedman’s dubious “real test,” on what basis does he believe radical students at the University of Wisconsin are more accurate barometers of American opinion than, say, the hundreds of U.S. college students who travel to Washington D.C. for AIPAC’s annual policy conference each year, or the legions of American voters who, despite much media bias and decades of stories told primarily from the Palestinian perspective nevertheless demonstrate time and again at the ballot box an instinctual and common sense grasp of Israelis’ rights to existence and self-defense?

More on this to come, but I wanted to mention a simple fact that is often overlooked in high-level discussions of foreign affairs: Israelis have never asked Americans, or anyone, to fight or die for them. Surrounded by hostile enemies who were historically armed by the Soviets, Israelis have accepted military aid to better protect themselves. But that is all. And that fact is incontrovertible. Believe what you like about Israel’s fundamental existence, but the idea that Israel has asked Americans to die for the Jewish state is patently false. Americans know it is false. Just as most Americans know that, at its root, Israel’s conflict with its Arab neighbors was not chosen or initiated by Israelis.

It seems one reason the modern blood libel that Mr. Abrams writes about has failed to take hold in the U.S. is the common sense of the average American.

My guess is Mr. Friedman doesn’t get out much–out of Manhattan and Washington D.C., that is. If he had more frank discussions with Americans from all walks of life–the cabbies, the restaurant workers, the people in towns from Meadville, Pa. to Greely, Colorado–he would hear a common sense perspective about Israel’s right to self-defense and existence from a range of Americans who have never even heard of AIPAC.

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