Commenting on a recent Pew Research Center for the People & the Press poll that showed 75 percent of Conservative Republicans sympathizing with Israel in its conflict with the Palestinians, compared with 33 percent of liberal Democrats siding with the Jewish state, the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) on Jan. 3 noted the “continued existence of a large ‘Israel gap’” between the two parties.
In the Dec. 14 Pew poll, 2 percent of Conservative Republicans and 22 percent of liberal Democrats said they sympathized with the Palestinian side in the conflict.
Pew had asked 1,503 respondents the following question: “In the dispute between Israel and the Palestinians, which side do you sympathize with more, Israel or the Palestinians?” From the poll’s results, Pew concluded that there continues to be “stark partisan differences in Middle East sympathies.”
“This poll confirms the troubling shift among rank-and-file Democrats, for whom support of Israel is now a minority position,” RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks said in a Jan. 3 statement. “Other polls this past year, as well as the boos from the floor when a pro-Israel resolution was brought before the Democratic National Convention last summer, all point to lower support for Israel among Democrats. The traditional bipartisan support for Israel in Congress and the country is threatened by the leftward shift of the Democratic Party, a shift that increasingly makes it hard for some Democratic leaders to support Israel because of liberal pressure.”
National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) President and CEO David A. Harris, in a statement about the Pew poll to JNS.org, said “American Jews, who care deeply about Israel and follow current events closely, have seen the unprecedented, powerful support shown for Israel by President Barack Obama—and that displayed by Democrats throughout the House and Senate, and across our Democratic Party.” The same American Jews “have voted with their feet for decades and voted Democratic,” including on Election Day 2012, Harris said.
“The GOP may have one thing that the Democratic Party does not have— the complete fealty of the Evangelical and the far-right religious vote; but with it comes uncompromising support for a range of issues that are anathema to American Jews,” he added. “At the end of the day, it’s both domestic issues and trust in our Party’s strong pro-Israel bona-fides that keeps the vast majority of Jews voting Democratic.”