The Israel Factor's centrist streak
LAST UPDATED: 12/08/2010 15:27
The Panel members, like most Israelis, seem to prefer the American policy maker more moderate.
Hillary Rodham Clinton. Photo: Associated Press
even this month the panel considers the Tea Party movement as
net-negative when it comes to possible impact on Israel’s well being.
Rejecting J Street from the left and the Tea Party from the right is
the panel’s way of saying: From an Israeli standpoint, a centrist
America is the way to go. The panel wants Israel to remain a bipartisan
issue, and for American policies to be moderately crafted (yes, George
W. Bush was very popular in Israel, which to some people might be proof
that Israelis like the radically hawkish. I’d argue it is not a proof
of any such thing, but this needs more explaining - some other time).
The panel of experts
that the Israel Factor turns to each month is made up of a range of
participants who express varying political views. This week we see that
while our panelist's may house differing political opinions, the
average outcome of their views tends towards a Centrist outlook.
This week we'll take a look at the table and at the answers our Israel Factor panel
had produced to this simple request: “From 1 (bad for Israel) to 10
(good for Israel): Generally speaking, please rate the following people
Israel Factor: The Statistics
Israel Factor: The Questionnaire
The answers we present represent the average that this panel of experts produces. It is not a survey of Israelis, and the average we post here doesn’t
mean that all people think this way (more about The Israel Factor,
here). However, the panel’s record is quite good, and our
monthly survey deserves the attention it is getting. It is good because
for many reasons, one of them being its inclusiveness of experts with
different views. It is not a panel with “right wing” or “left wing”
tendencies – no more than the tendencies of the “average” Israelis.
Thus, when the panel is ranking the candidates or the policies of the
US political arena and the US government, it doesn’t distort the
“Israeli view” because of political biases. You want proof? Here’s one.
The table I’ve mentioned at the top of this post. Take a look:
Barack Obama 5.25
Hillary Clinton 6.75
The Tea Party movement 3.87
J Street 4.75
The Republican Jewish Coalition 6.62
The National Jewish Democratic Council 6.5
The Emergency Committee on Israel 5.43
What do we see here?
see a panel expressing Israeli relative uneasiness with the two groups
that make Israel a “political issue” (J Street and ECI) – but is happy
to get the unbiased support of a bipartisan group (AIPAC – I know some
critics think AIPAC is partial. Obviously, the panel doesn’t buy it).
What’s more: When I look at specific numbers each panelist attached to
the groups mentioned above, the trend becomes even more vivid. The
satisfaction with AIPAC is almost across the board, with all panelists
but one giving it more than seven. Dissatisfaction with the two other
groups is also quite obvious, as panelists’ votes are being divided by
As you can see, the Jewish organizations
of the Republican and the Democratic parties were ranked with very
similar outcome (6.5, 6.62). Three panelists gave the RJC somewhat
better marks – two gave the NJDC somewhat better marks – three gave the
two organizations the exact same marks. The widest gap for any of the
panelists between RJC and NJDC was of two points (7-5, 5-3).
last proof our panel is relatively centrist in nature: the low grades
and appreciation it has for the Tea Party movement. As you can see in
this table, the Tea Party is doing noticeably better with the panel
this month than it did last month (other changes seem insignificant):
Nov-10 Dec-10 Change
Barack Obama 5 5.25 0.25
Hillary Clinton 6.43 6.75 0.32
The Tea Party 2.6 3.87 1.27
conclude: We’ve said the panel produces for relatively centrist
verdicts on policies and people. Hence, the much better grades Hillary
Clinton is getting the ones the panel gives Barak Obama. And, again,
one might argue: Clinton is merely implementing Obama’s policies, why
is she any better? But there’s simple answer to such claim: Perception
matters. And while Clinton is still perceived by Israelis as a policy
maker with a centrist liberal with moderately hawkish views on foreign
affairs – Obama, rightly or wrongly, is seen as the ultra liberal
policy maker. Simply put, the panel, like most Israelis, seems to
prefer the American policy maker more moderate. Does this mean that the
Israeli public really “hate Obama’s guts” – as one guy said not long
ago? That is a matter I’ll address in a couple of days.