Netanyahu Continues to Erode the Alliance Between U.S. and Israel

As Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu continues to decry the landmark deal between the U.S. and Iran, more evidence is emerging that Israel’s current leadership is alienating Americans in droves:

The number of Americans who view Israel as an ally of the United States has sharply decreased, according to a new poll published Thursday. Only 54% of Americans polled said that Israel is their country’s ally, a decline from 68% in 2014 and 74% in 2012.

Rasmussen Reports, who conducted the poll, said Israel had “tumbled down the list.” By contrast, 86% and 84% see Canada and Britain respectfully as the US’s allies.

When broken down along party political lines, 76% of Republicans view Israel an ally of the US compared to only 45% of Democrats and 47% of Independents.

Republicans will no doubt jump on the fact that most of the weakening of support for Israel as an ally comes from Democrats, and accuse Democrats of anti-semitism and the usual even more scurrilous charges.

But the reality is that Netanyahu and the far right in Israel have partisanized the relationship and become cheerleaders for Republicans. The Israeli far right desperately wants to bomb Iran, and they explicitly reject a two-state solution for Palestine. Those positions are detrimental to Israel’s security and immoral on their face–and they run explicitly counter to world opinion and mainstream Democratic policy in the United States.

Given how politically divided the U.S. has become, it’s not surprising that an Israel that aligns itself in a strongly partisan way with extreme policy positions would find itself rapidly losing support from the citizens of the country it needs most for aid and defense.

Unfortunately, with Netanyahu’s recent electoral victory it appears that the downward trend is likely to continue for some time to come. That in turn is bad for the United States, for Israel and for the whole region. But the blame for that lies squarely with the Israeli far right and those who saw fit to keep Netanyahu in power.

David Atkins

David Atkins is a writer, activist and research professional living in Santa Barbara. He is a contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal and president of The Pollux Group, a qualitative research firm.