In Europe, criticism of Israel’s actions in Gaza is slowly picking up steam. In the US, however, public opinion is still very much pro-Israel. DW talked to former Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat about the sentiment there.
DW: Ambassador, Israel is losing the public relations war outside the United States, but here in the US the reaction has been muted with polls showing most Americans still supportive. Why is that?
Stuart Eizenstat: The Gaza reaction goes back to the basic context of how Americans view Israel and Hamas. First of all, there has traditionally been much more support for Israel going back decades here than in Europe and the reason is a mixture of things.
Many Americans see Israel as the holy land, something even as Christians they think is important to preserve. And as a democratic bastion in a sea of autocrats and dictators, as a country dedicated to the kinds of rule of law and other values that Americans cherish and contrast to the absence of that in many of the Arab countries.
There is a view that organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad, are all part of the Islamic terrorist threat that we saw in 9/11. The view of many Americans is all tied together with other similar terrorist organizations. So when a Hamas rocket goes into Israel, it’s viewed as part and parcel of an attack against the West by Islamic radicals.
But how do the Americans see civilian casualities among the Palestinians?
l remember that Prime Minister [Ariel] Sharon pulled lock, stock, and barrel out of Gaza, took all the settlers out, 7,000 of them, dismantled every single Israeli institution and indeed was willing to transfer to the Palestinians those things of value, like flour, hot houses, and things, which by the way, once Israel left were totally destroyed.
So instead of getting peace and tranquility, once Hamas took over from the Palestinian authority, they gave them not roses but rockets. And that speaks volumes. And Americans have a very clear recollection of that history…
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A typical piece from the “elites” of Europe: It is pretty sad. It is like they are incapable of learning about what has happened and drawing the correct conclusions.
Or maybe anti-Semitism among the elites is more common than they let on. They are too smart to show it, but what are they thinking?
One reaches a point and thinks: to hell with you then. I hope you enjoy your rapidly growing Muslim population. I think in a generation or two there will less enthusiasm for your “multikulti” experiment.