Ever so slowly over the past two decades, and gaining momentum since the April 2002 Israeli destruction of the West Bank town of Jenin, American attitudes toward Israel appear to be changing according to some public opinion analysts. The American Public Opinion and U.S. Foreign Policy polling unit that works on behalf of the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations has argued that the American opinion shift accelerates with each perceived Israeli outrage, such as the saturation bombing of much of south Lebanon and south Beirut during the July 2006 war; the massive civilian slaughter -- more than one-third women and children -- in Gaza during the winter of 2008/9; the May 2010 murders and carnage committed against the Mavi Marmara, including the assassination of 19-year-old American Furkan Dogan; and the cumulative effect of a half century of Geneva Convention and international law violations by Israel against occupied Palestine and Lebanon.
Some opinion analysts, such as those who conducted the 2009 Zogby International poll of American attitudes toward Israelis and Palestinians, express surprise with what they are learning from the American public, and say they detect significant changes in American public attitudes favoring US disengagement from Israel.
Such changes in attitudes are not yet evident in Congress nor in the Office of Vice President Joe Biden. But then, as one of Biden's Democratic Congressional colleagues from Cleveland, Ohio -- just recently reelected and now planning to force a Congressional vote on withdrawing from Afghanistan -- noted this week, "Joe's a nice fella but a God-awful slow learner! Cracks and fissures are shooting around and inside Joe's great American pro-Israel public opinion vase etched in gold with the words: "US Support for Israel Must Continue Forever!"
The New York Time's Tom Friedman seemed to concur during meetings in Israel recently:
"US support for Israel could shatter like Humpty Dumpty -- and it could get ugly"You are losing the American people who believe me, are fed up with the Mideast in general. But they're also fed up with Israel. When they see their president working hard to try to tee up an opportunity" And you say 'No, first pay me let Jonathon Pollard out of jail, have Abu Mazen sing Hatikva in perfect Yiddish, and then we'll think about testing.' It rubs a lot of Americans the wrong way."Changes of US citizens' attitudes toward Israel are evident in Lebanon also. Hundreds of Americans and other foreigners have visited Shatila and other Palestinian refugee Camps in Beirut in the past few years according to the Sabra Shatila Foundation that conducts tours of the camp. Many visiting Americans have been surveyed by various firms and the results mirror recent surveys from the States. Several explanations are being offered by pollsters for the developing American public opinion shift away from support for Israel.
One is the growing perception that Israel, despite its consistent claims of self defense and accidents when it attacks and kills civilian populations, is in fact the aggressor and lacks respect for non-Jewish lives. There is growing American revulsion at the increasing incidents of verbal assaults on Arabs and Muslims, racist hate speech graffiti by the Israeli public, internet defamation by elements of the US Israel Lobby, and seeming encouragement by Israeli officials and some Rabbi's ensconced among the more than 100 illegal colonies in occupied Palestine.
Two often mentioned examples are:
~The followers of the late Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu who regularly broadcast his calls that "All of the Palestinians must be killed; men, women, infants, and even their beasts."
~And Rabbi Yizhak Shapiro, who lately published the book The King's Torah in which he detailed the "jurisprudence" sanctioning the killing of Palestinian infants and children.
The White House has reportedly been surprised by the number of Americans objecting to, or even knowing about, these kinds of outrageous and immoral US funded extremists that has been going on for half a century.
Americans are becoming weary of Israel constantly moving the goal post in the "peace negotiations" as well as Israeli officials undercutting the American President and flaunting their power in Congress and using the US-Israel Lobby and media juggernaut to ridicule him. When Obama condemns Israeli settlement building and calls for suspension, within days, Israel often announces more settlement construction, often claiming mere coincidence.
A growing belief among the American public that Israel takes the US for granted and is only interested in its own economic and military benefits at American expense. Just this week, President Obama criticized Israel for announcing another stage in the approval process of 1,300 housing units in the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Pisgat Ze'ev and Har Homa. He warned: "This kind of activity is never helpful when it comes to peace negotiations. I'm concerned that we're not seeing each side making the extra effort involved to get a breakthrough."
Israel's reaction was immediate, condemnatory and harsh. Knesset Members as well as AIPAC staff attacked President Obama, saying that he is ignoring the reality of Israel's needs in Jerusalem. MK Avi Dichter told the Jerusalem Post that the American people are smart enough to "understand that there is no chance that Jerusalem will return to the 1967 borders. But they are either not smart enough or still don't understand that the most sensitive part of the negotiations is Jerusalem. For their President to deal with Jerusalem at the beginning of negotiations is a recipe for failure."
Bar Ilan University professor Ehud Gilboa added that he does not think Obama will "lay off" of Israel in the near future:
"I believe he has an obsession with Israel. He will want to get the talks between Israel and the Palestinians going only because he wants to be remembered in history as the one who is signed on the peace agreement. We expect him to be a one-term President and I don't think he warrants being taken seriously."
More Americans appear to be tiring of Israeli officials telling them they don't understand how to view Israeli land confiscations, ethnic cleansing and use of American cash and weapons. One poll conducted during October 2010 of Americans living in Beirut asked about Israeli PM Netanyahu calling the United Nations' Goldstone Report "a modern day blood libel." Only 4% of the Americans believed this. But 85% believed that Israel manipulates this term and also the Nazi crimes against Jews during WW II to justify its occupation and treatment of Palestinians.
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