NYT Can't Grasp Why GOP Supports Israel, Blames 'Us vs. Them' Culture War, 'Drastic' Trump

January 22nd, 2018 4:25 PM

Max Fisher’s latest explainer piece in Monday’s New York Times, “How the Right Took Israel’s Side,” attacked President Trump and conservatives in general for supporting Israel for no good reason.

After flubbing basic facts about the U.S. Embassy move to Jerusalem in favor of anti-Israel assertions in December, Fisher again revealed himself untrustworthy on an issue he pays special attention to, offering grossly misleading characterizations of Republican attitudes toward the Israel-Palestinian dilemma.

In Fisher’s view, there are very few genuinely pro-Israel conservatives; the stance is merely a nonsensical, cynical extension of the GOP's Democrat-hating culture war, with no reasonable reasons to support Israel over the Palestinians that often carry out terror attacks against Jews:

Within a foreign policy otherwise characterized by its haphazardness, the Trump administration has pursued one issue with single-minded intentionality: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

President Trump’s actions have consistently expressed a particularly American notion of being “pro-Israel.” But it is one rooted less in the conflict itself than in the United States’ own culture wars.

Fisher also stated as fact conservative hypocrisy where there was none:

Vice President Mike Pence, an evangelical Christian, visits Israel this week, the culmination of his years of support for the country on religious grounds. But the Trump administration’s policies, while lauded by American evangelical groups, are opposed by Palestinian Christians and have been questioned by Pope Francis.

Those policies, in other words, align poorly with either the religious solidarity or foreign policy realism that supposedly animated them, but align perfectly with American identity politics.

Mr. Trump, with his penchant for indulging his nationalist impulses and disregarding foreign policy doctrine, is a perfect vessel for carrying that culture war abroad, with potentially far-reaching consequences.


Research by Amnon Cavari, an Israeli political scientist, found that hard-line views on Israel had spread among conservatives only recently, and largely because of partisan polarization over domestic issues. Though conventional wisdom often suggests that evangelical and Jewish groups energized conservative views on Israel, in fact it was the other way around.

As he did in December, Fisher tried for moral equivalence between Palestinian terror attacks and Israeli defensive maneuvers:

A period of terrible violence known as the second intifada -- in which Palestinian militants staged shocking terrorist attacks and Israeli military actions killed scores of civilians -- resonated with Americans. Israeli leaders, seeking Washington’s support, encouraged Americans to see their conflicts as one and the same.

Being tough on terrorism became a core conservative value that was expressed, in part, as support for Israel -- specifically, as support for harsh Israeli policies toward the conflict. This also aligned with increasingly negative attitudes toward Muslims. And an atmosphere of us-versus-them politics equated supporting Israelis with opposing Palestinians.


Mr. Trump has taken it drastically further. He has indulged hard-core conservative instincts to a degree that, deliberately or not, attracted support from a white nationalist fringe that also tends to be hostile to Jews.

He is moving the idea of being “pro-Israel” even further right, separating it even from the Jewish support that is ostensibly critical to Israel’s long-term survival.