The Israel Factor's centrist streak
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 would argue it is not a proof
of any such thing, but this I will leave for another 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 take a look at the answers our Israel Factor panel produced in response 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 here represent the average between our panel of experts. It is not a survey of Israelis, and the average here does not represent the opinion of all Israelis (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
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 ranks the candidates or the policies in the
US political arena and the US government, it doesn’t distort the
“Israeli view” because of political biases. You want proof? Take a look at how our panelists rate the following political figures and bodies, on a scale from one to ten:
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 the Israeli 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 is 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 and 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).
Need proof positive that our panel is relatively centrist in nature? Observe the low grades
and appreciation it has for the Tea Party movement. As you can see in
the table below, the Tea Party is doing noticeably better with the panel
this month than it did last month:
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
We’ve seen that the panel leans toward a relatively centrist
verdict when it comes to policies and people. Hence, much better grades have been awarded to Hillary
Clinton as opposed to Barak Obama. One might argue that Clinton is merely implementing Obama’s policies, why should she be any better? But there is a simple answer to such a claim: Perception
matters. While Clinton is still perceived by Israelis as a centrist liberal policy
maker with moderately hawkish views on foreign
affairs – Obama, rightly or wrongly, is seen as the ultra liberal
Simply put, the panel, like most Israelis, seems to
prefer the American policy maker more moderate. Does this mean that the
Israeli public really “hates Obama’s guts” – as one critic said not long
ago? That is a matter I’ll address in a couple of days.