The Israel Factor has centrist streak

Simply put, the panel, like most Israelis, seems to prefer the American policy maker more moderate.

Knesset winter session 311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
Knesset winter session 311
(photo credit: Associated Press)
This week we will 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 and institutions”.

As Rosner readersshould know by now, the answers we present represent the average thatthis panel of experts produces (names and short bios of panel members here).It is not a survey of Israelis, and the average we post here doesn’tmean there are no people thinking differently than others (more aboutThe Israel Factor here). However, the panel’s record is quite good (see here)and our monthly survey deserves the attention it is getting. It is goodbecause of many reasons, one of them being its inclusiveness of expertswith different views. It is not a panel with “right wing” or “leftwing” tendencies – no more than the tendencies of the “average”Israelis. Thus, when the panel is ranking the candidates or thepolicies of the US political arena and the US government, it doesn’tdistort 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 alook:

What do we see here?

Wesee a panel expressing Israeli relative uneasiness with the two groupsthat make Israel a “political issue” (J Street and ECI) – but is happyto get the unbiased support of a bipartisan group (AIPAC – I know somecritics think AIPAC is partial. Obviously, the panel doesn’t buy it).What’s more: When I look at specific numbers each panelist attached tothe groups mentioned above, the trend becomes even more vivid. Thesatisfaction with AIPAC is almost across the board, with all panelistsbut one giving it more than 7. Dissatisfaction with the two othergroups is also quite obvious, as panelists’ votes are being divided byideological beliefs.

Asyou can see, the Jewish organizations of the Republican and theDemocratic parties were ranked with very similar outcome (6.5, 6.62).Three panelists gave the RJC somewhat better marks – two gave the NJDCsomewhat better marks – three gave the two organizations the exact samemarks. The widest gap for any of the panelists between RJC and NJDC wasof 2 points (7-5, 5-3).

Onelast proof our panel is relatively centrist in nature: the low gradesand appreciation it has for the Tea Party movement. As you can see inthis table, the Tea Party is doing noticeably better with the panelthis month than it did last month (other changes seem insignificant):

However,even this month the panel considers the Tea Party movement asnet-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 isthe panel’s way of saying: From an Israeli standpoint, a centristAmerica is the way to go. The panel wants Israel to remain a bipartisanissue, and for American policies to be moderately crafted (yes, GeorgeW. Bush was very popular in Israel, which to some people might be proofthat Israelis like the radically hawkish. I’d argue it is not a proofof any such thing, but this needs more explaining – in some other time).

Toconclude: We’ve said the panel produces for relatively centristverdicts on policies and people. Hence, the much better grades HillaryClinton is getting the ones the panel gives Barak Obama. And, again,one might argue: Clinton is merely implementing Obama’s policies, whyis she any better? But there’s simple answer to such claim: Perceptionmatters. And while Clinton is still perceived by Israelis as a policymaker with a centrist liberal with moderately hawkish views on foreignaffairs – Obama, rightly or wrongly, is seen as the ultra liberalpolicy maker. Simply put, the panel, like most Israelis, seems toprefer the American policy maker more moderate. Does this mean that theIsraeli public really “hate Obama’s guts” – as one schmuck had said not long ago? That is a matter I’ll address in a couple of days.