Pew is out with a timely poll that provides insight into American attitudes regarding Iran and Israel. Briefly put, the American people are ahead of President Obama when it comes to military action against Iran, and Republicans are far ahead of Democrats when it comes to supporting military action by Israel.
The public supports tough measures — including the possible use of military force — to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Nearly six-in-ten (58%) say it is more important to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, even if it means taking military action. Just 30% say it is more important to avoid a military conflict with Iran,even if it means that country develops nuclear weapons. These opinions are little changed from October 2009. . . . About half of Americans (51%) say the United States should remain neutral if Israel takes action to stop Iran’s nuclear program, but far more say the U.S. should support (39%) than oppose (5%) an Israeli attack.
But there is a strong partisan divide among Americans. “Republicans are far more supportive of using military force to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons than are either Democrats or independents. Moreover, a majority of Republicans (62%) say the U.S. should support an Israeli attack to stop Iran’s nuclear program, compared with just a third of independents and Democrats.”
The division in opinion is evident when the poll is broken down by religious group and by religion:
Fully 64% of white evangelical Protestants say that the U.S. should support Israel if it attacks Iran in an effort to stop their nuclear weapon program. That compares with 42% of white mainline Protestants and 41% of white Catholics.
There is a wide divide among Republicans on the issue of Iran. Fully 71% of conservative Republicans think the U.S. should support Israel’s military action if they attack Iran, compared with 43% of moderate and liberal Republicans. A majority of independents and Democrats (including both liberal and more moderate Democrats) think the U.S. should stay neutral.
It’s stunning, actually, that in the event of a conflict between the revolutionary, jihadist state Iran and our democratic ally Israel, Democrats want us to be neutral.
The Democratic National Committee chairwoman doesn’t want to make Israel an “election” issue. Maybe before lecturing Republicans to clam up she should work on educating her own party about the U.S.-Israel relationship and about the menace of a nuclear-armed Iran. It is embarrassing for the Democratic Party’s finger-wagging chairwoman to be saddled with a constituency that is so indifferent to the plight of the Jewish state. As for Obama, it seems he’s right in sync with opinion in his party on Israel. And that is a big problem for the future of the U.S.-Israel relationship, the survival of the Jewish state and the continued credibility of the United States, which under two administrations has vowed that it is “unacceptable” for Iran to obtain nuclear weapons.