As the new political wind sweeps across the US body politic and the world, many of us are faced with the reality that there is much work to be done to seriously change both the Republican and Democratic positions on Israel/Palestine (indeed, this New York Times essay, even with predictable hyperbole and inaccuracy, provides a key summary of current Israeli and American thinking.)
The fact remains that entrenched ideology still exists in much of the political elite. When new House Leader Nancy Pelosi recently spoke to AIPAC, her words were remarkably similar to a Bush administration official. Israel first, Israel second and Israel third. The Palestinians were an afterthought, at best. Simply put, Pelosi knows where her bread is buttered.
Of course, a recent poll in the US details the attitudes of a great many citizens:
The Council for the National Interest has just conducted a Zogby International poll that reveals that nearly a third (31 percent) of likely American voters believe in Christian Zionism, as defined as “a belief that Israel must have all of the promised land, including Jerusalem, to facilitate the second coming of the messiah.” More than half (53 percent) of American voters do not believe in Christian Zionism, while sixteen percent are not sure.
Those living in the east (66 percent) are the most likely to say they do not believe in Christian Zionism, while those living in south (35 percent) and in the central Great Lakes region (36 percent) are the most likely to believe. Protestants (40 percent) are significantly more likely to believe than are Catholics (19 percent). African Americans (40 percent) are more likely to believe in this than either Hispanics (33 percent) or whites (29 percent). Republicans (37 percent) are more likely to believe in Christian Zionism than are Democrats or independents (28 percent each).
It’s no wonder that both major political parties will not radically alter their Middle East policies until a few factors start to change; a more politicised Muslim voting bloc, international pressure on the US to reign in Israeli brutality and a realisation that an unresolved Israel/Palestine conflict only increases US hatred in the region.
International pressure should be the key for activists in the short-term, and thus far, success has been mixed.
Justice and time is on our side.