Pipe Down

Larry Levin

Larry Levin

Daniel Pipes should know better.

At a time when it’s crucially important to acknowledge all support of Israel, from all perspectives regardless of political affiliation, Pipes, who writes frequently on issues surrounding Israel, is deliberately trying to drive wedges in that support.

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In his op ed piece in the Jerusalem Post yesterday, Pipes attempts to show that Republicans are more “pro Israel” than Democrats. But his logic is roughly equivalent to that of a second grader. Let’s take a look.

First, Pipes cites a letter over 50 Democrats signed in support of aid to Palestinians and uses that as a basis for suggesting these Democrats are anti-Israel.

Next, after Vice President Joe Biden went to Israel and was met with a (not atypical) PR disaster regarding settlement building, Congressmen sent letters to the administration in support of Israel. While these letters were strongly bipartisan, Pipes made a point of focusing on who didn’t sign the letters rather than on who did. Again, a blatant effort to politicize the issue rather than find common ground.

Now let’s look at Pipes’s claim about polling: “An April 2009 poll by Zogby International asked about US policy: Ten percent of Obama voters and 60 percent of voters for Republican John McCain wanted the president to support Israel. Get tough with Israel? Eighty percent of Obama voters said yes and 73 percent of McCain voters said no.”

So I went back and looked at James Zogby’s own description of the results, which, by the way, came very shortly AFTER the Operation Cast Lead initiative by Israel. Here is one portion of Zogby’s OWN description:

“The survey found that substantial majorities (of all groups) believed: that a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is important; that the conflict negatively impacts U.S. interests in the Middle East; that both Israelis and Palestinians are entitled to equal rights; and that there should be a Palestinian state.”

So really, when you look at the difference between SOME Democrats and SOME Republicans, the issue is not about supporting Israel as a sovereign; it’s about the METHODS that ought be used to achieve the end goals. Democrats tend to be less aggressive and more supportive of the perceived (emphasis on perceived) downtrodden; Republicans tend to support the use of force and self-defense and less focused on aid and social need subsidies.

Reading Pipes you would get the sense that Democrats hate Israel. It certainly may be true that there are more Democrats who would be hands-on in expecting certain conduct of Israel. But to suggest, as he does, that those Democrats do not support Israel’s right to exist as a sovereign state free of external violence, is a major stretch, and one unproven by the data.

Pipes, who certainly cannot be faulted for his devotion to Israel over the years, can most definitely be faulted for working to rip apart coalitions rather than building them. He rushes up to the midline of the dodgeball court, hurls his sphere, then retreats to safety. It seems to me we need more players who can egage in the game than we do those who, when faced with the need for dialogue, simply duck and cover.