Americans Wary of Israel Lobby

A new poll commissioned by the Council for the National Interest Foundation shows that a significant number of Americans are wary of the power of the Israel lobby, and believe it is behind the invasion of Iraq and the current belligerent tone of the White House and Congress toward Iran.

The poll, which was carried out by Zogby International, reveals that 39% of the American public “agree” or “somewhat agree” that “the work of the Israel lobby on Congress and the Bush administration has been a key factor for going to war in Iraq and now confronting Iran.” However, a similar number, 40%, “strongly disagreed” or “somewhat disagreed” with this position. Some 20% of the public, or more than one in five, were not sure.

The poll suggests that the espionage charges against two employees of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and the publicity given to a new study of the power of the Israel lobby by two mainstream academic professors has had an affect on people’s awareness of the lobby.

The academic study, done by Professor John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Professor Stephen Walt of Harvard University, was published in the London Review of Books in March 2006, and was the subject of a recent debate at Peter Cooper Union that included Professor Mearsheimer, Prof. Rashid Khalidi (Columbia University), and Prof. Tony Judt (New York University) and three influential pro-Zionists, Martin Indyk, Dennis Ross, and Shlomo Ben-Ami.

The poll’s details show that 46% of Democrats tended to believe that the lobby was influential in the decision to go to war in Iraq while 45% of Republicans tended to believe it was not.

Along religious lines, while Protestants tended to be evenly divided on the role of the Israel Lobby in the Iraq invasion, 49% of Catholics tended to see the lobby’s hand in the invasion, while 77% of Jewish Americans overwhelming disagreed with the premise. Among ethnic groups, Hispanics (53%) believed that the lobby’s role was influential.

Among age groups, 50% of those between the ages of 18 and 29 agreed that the Israel lobby had a hand in forming the current pro-war policy. As one might expect, those who call themselves progressive (49%) or liberal (52%) also agreed in the role of the lobby, while “moderates” (42%) and “very conservative” (44%) people disagreed with the idea, as did a significant percentage of college graduates (44%).

Eugene Bird, president of CNI Foundation, commented about the poll, “It demonstrates the need for widening the circulation of information about the role of the Neocons and the pro-Israel lobby in the corridors of power during the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003.”

Some 1,035 people participated in the poll, which was conducted in every part of the country. 

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