If the Left Got Its Wish for Israel

If the Left Got Its Wish for Israel

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If the Left Got Its Wish for Israel

May 17, 2021
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Bret Stephens

By Bret Stephens

Opinion Columnist

Imagine an alternative universe in which an enlightened Israeli government did almost everything progressive America demanded of it.

An immediate cessation of hostilities in Gaza. An end to Israeli controls over the movement of goods into the territory. A halt to settlement construction in the West Bank. Renunciation of Israel’s sovereign claims in East Jerusalem. Fast-track negotiations for Palestinian statehood, with the goal of restoring the June 4, 1967, lines as an internationally recognized border.

Oslo would be placing phone calls to Jerusalem and Ramallah in October, to bestow the Nobel Peace Prize on the Israeli and Palestinian leaders. Arab states such as Saudi Arabia would establish formal diplomatic relations with Israel. The international community would agree on a multibillion-dollar aid package for the new state of Palestine.

But there would be flies in this ointment.

Damascus would refuse to recognize Israel until it agreed to return the Golan Heights, which even the most left-wing Israeli government would refuse to do, given Bashar al-Assad’s record of brutality and Iran’s extensive military presence in Syria.

Lebanon, dominated as it is by Hezbollah (an Iranian proxy), would also refuse to recognize Israel, using the pretext of the Shebaa Farms, a sliver of land that Beirut claims is occupied Lebanese territory, even though the U.N. says otherwise.

As for Gaza, the end of the so-called blockade (“so-called” because plenty of licit goods reach Gaza today through Israeli border crossings) would turn the steady trickle of military equipment into the strip, most of it from Iran, into a cascade. Hamas, which currently makes do with relatively unsophisticated rockets, would replenish its arsenal with more powerful guided munitions, able to reach any target in Israel

This would require Israel to change its military doctrine toward Hamas. Out would be the approach of periodically degrading the group’s military capabilities through targeted strikes. In would be a strategy calling for a full-scale land invasion and reoccupation of the strip in order to defend the Israeli heartland from Hamas’s missiles. The casualty count in the next war would be multiples of what it is today.

In addition to its new military might, Hamas would be strengthened politically. Its policy of resistance — i.e., guerrilla warfare and terrorism — against Israel would look to many Palestinians as though it forced a change in Israeli policy, while the more peaceful policies of Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party would smack of fruitless collaboration.

The international community would try to help Fatah with lavish economic aid and technical assistance. But Fatah has a long record of corruption and mismanagement, two factors that helped Hamas win parliamentary elections in 2006. Since then, Abbas’s approach to his political opponents has been to suspend elections and persecute rivals like Muhammad Dahlan and Salam Fayyad.

But at 85, Abbas won’t be able to stave off elections forever. Eventually, Hamas will come to power, doubly legitimized by success at the polls and its commitment to wipe Israel off the map.

Before then, however, Israel would freeze all settlement construction with a view toward forcing settlers to leave their homes or be stranded inside a future Palestinian state.

The result would be massive radicalization among Israelis against their own government, dwarfing the unholy furies that led to Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination in 1995. Any decision to repartition Jerusalem in ways that risked or hampered access to the Western Wall and other sacred Jewish sites like the Mount of Olives (the entire Old City was in Jordanian hands before the Six-Day War) would likely spark civil war.

But perhaps the progressive Israeli government might yet succeed if a U.N.-sanctioned, U.S.-led force — you might almost call it a mandate — agreed to deploy peacekeeping forces to guarantee Jewish rights and security. America’s appetite for such deployments hasn’t exactly been growing in recent years, and its staying power is easily tested. Some Israelis might wonder how long their ostensible benefactors would stay should a suicide bomber kill several hundred Marines in a Beirut-style barracks attack.

In the meantime, a Hamas administration in the West Bank wouldn’t take long to duplicate the formula that paid such dividends for it in Gaza: the complete militarization of the territory, putting every Israeli at immediate risk of rocket attack.

In this it would be greatly assisted by Iran, especially if rising oil prices and the potential lifting of economic sanctions as part of a new nuclear deal replenish Tehran’s coffers and its appetite for regional adventures. Jordan, too, would be at risk if a radical Palestinian state turns its sights on a fractious Hashemite regime.

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Opinion | If the Left Got Its Wish for IsraelAn ill-devised peace would inevitably lead to an even worse war.

And what about peace? A Hamas government would likely renege on any agreement with a Jewish state that does not honor the “right of return” of the descendants of Palestinian refugees. Anti-Zionist groups such as Jewish Voice for Peace would make the Palestinian case in the United States while the Tucker Carlson wing of the Republican Party would call for sharp restrictions on immigration.

As for Israelis, they would eventually emerge from the morass, at a terrible cost in blood, because they have no other choice. When they did, they could be sure the progressive wing of the Democratic Party would be quick to denounce them for having the temerity to survive.

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POLL: VIEWERS OF CONSERVATIVE MEDIA MORE LIKELY TO GET THE FACTS RIGHT ON TOPICS IN THE NEWS

POLL: VIEWERS OF CONSERVATIVE MEDIA MORE LIKELY TO GET THE FACTS RIGHT ON TOPICS IN THE NEWS

RASMUSSEN/HEARTLAND POLL: VIEWERS OF CONSERVATIVE MEDIA MORE LIKELY TO GET THE FACTS RIGHT ON TOPICS IN THE NEWS

MAY 17, 2021By Justin Haskins Survey Results

From April 29 to May 3, Rasmussen Reports and The Heartland Institute, a national free-market think tank, conducted a nationwide survey of 2,000 likely voters.

From April 29 to May 3, Rasmussen Reports and The Heartland Institute, a national free-market think tank, conducted a nationwide survey of 2,000 likely voters. Included in the poll was a series of questions asking likely voters how they receive news and information, as well as questions about a variety of topics in the news: the U.S. national debt, the percentage of Americans without health coverage, and tax rates paid by wealthy individuals and families. The following results from the survey illustrate likely voters’ views on these important issues, as well as how those views are correlated with news media preferences.

You can download the full survey results and all crosstabs by clicking here. (We strongly recommend that in addition to considering our summary bullet points below, you download the full results and view the crosstabs for this survey, because this is where you’ll find the crosstabs about media preferences and other important information.)

You can find other results from the same survey, covering topics like police shootings and climate change, by clicking here and here.

Some of The Heartland Institute’s key findings from an analysis of the survey results include:

  • There is a strong correlation between a likely voter’s favorite television news outlet and his or her understanding of basic facts about important topics in the news.
     
    • Generally speaking, respondents who identified CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, or NBC as their “favorite” TV news outlet were more likely to incorrectly answer questions about the national debt, the income tax rate paid by the wealthy, and the percentage of the population that’s uninsured than the viewers of Fox News or “another” cable or network news station (such as The Blaze TV or Newsmax).
       
    • Our survey also seems to indicate that those who do not watch cable news or network news are more likely to answer our questions about the news accurately than the viewers of CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, or NBC.
       
  • Compared to viewers of Fox News, “another” cable news outlet, and those who don’t watch network news, viewers of CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, and NBC are substantially more likely to underestimate the size of the national debt, with many dramatically underestimating the debt.
     
    • For example, 69% of CBS viewers and 65% of NBC viewers underestimated the national debt, compared to 44% for those who said they don’t watch network news.
       
    • About 30% of CNN viewers and 32% of CBS viewers said the national debt was only $5 trillion or less. For context, the U.S. national debt has not been that low since 1995, more than 25 years ago.
       
    • Fox News viewers and those who watch “another” cable network not listed among survey results (such as The Blaze TV or Newsmax) were most likely to accurately identify the national debt, with 35% and 37%, respectfully, making the correct selection.
       
  • Viewers of Fox News or “another” cable network not listed in the survey, as well as those who “don’t watch” cable or network news, were also most likely to accurately identify the top federal income tax rate.
     
    • About two-thirds of the viewers of CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, and NBC underestimated the top tax rate. About 30% of the viewers of those networks said the top tax rate is just 20% or less.
       
  • Compared to viewers of Fox News, “another” cable news outlet, and those who don’t watch network news, viewers of CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, and NBC are substantially more likely to underestimate the percentage of the U.S. population that has health coverage.
     
    • More than 90% of the viewers of CNN, MSNBC, CBS, and NBC underestimated the percentage of the population that has health coverage, and a substantial number of those polled dramatically underestimated the number.
       
      • For example, 63% of CNN viewers said at least 20% of the U.S. population did not have health coverage prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The actual answer is about 8.8%.
         
    • Although viewers of Fox News and other cable networks were most likely to correctly select the percentage of the U.S. population without health care coverage, a sizeable percentage of these audiences also underestimated the size of the insured population (82%).

Knowledge About News Events and Media Preference

Survey of 2,000 Likely Voters by Rasmussen Reports and The Heartland Institute

April 29-May 3, 2021

Question 1.  Where do you primarily read or watch news and opinion content? Cable television (such as CNN or Fox News), network television, online news or commentary websites, YouTube or other social media, talk radio, streaming services, or a mix of services?

           30%     Cable television

12%     Network television

14%     Online news or commentary websites

8%       YouTube or other social media

4%       Talk radio

3%       Streaming services

28%     A mix of services

2%       Aren’t sure, or use another source

Question 2.   Among cable news outlets, which one would you characterize as your favorite? CNN, MSNBC, Fox News or another?

20%     CNN

            17%     MSNBC

            34%     Fox News

            19%     Another

            10%     You don’t watch cable news outlets

Question 3.  Among network news outlets, which one would you characterize as your favorite?  ABC, CBS, NBC, or another?

18%     ABC

            16%     CBS

            21%     NBC

            30%     Another

            10%     Don’t watch network news outlets

I am now going to ask you a series of questions about topics related to recent news events.  Please answer to the best of your ability, even if you are not sure what the correct choice is. (CORRECT ANSWERS ARE BOLDED.)

Question 4.  At present, how large is the U.S. national debt? $500 billion to $1 trillion, $1 trillion to $5 trillion, $5 trillion to $10 trillion, $10 trillion to $20 trillion, $20 trillion to $30 trillion, $30 trillion to $40 trillion, or more that $40 trillion?

            5%       $500 billion to $1 trillion

17%     $1 trillion to $5 trillion

17%     $5 trillion to $10 trillion

17%     $10 trillion to $20 trillion

            28%    $20 trillion to $30 trillion

9%       $30 trillion to $40 trillion

7%       More than $40 trillion

CORRECT ANSWER: The U.S. national debt is $28.17 trillion, as of April 14, 2021

Question 5.  What is the top marginal federal income tax rate (the highest rate one can pay in federal income taxes) for Americans who earn at the top income bracket?  This does not include state income taxes or payroll taxes like Social Security.  0% to 10%, 10% to 20%, 20% to 30%, 30% to 40%, 40% to 50%, or more that 50%?

            8%       0% to 10%

17%     10% to 20%

33%     20% to 30%

            31%    30% to 40%

9%       40% to 50%

2%       More than 50%

CORRECT ANSWER: The top marginal income tax rate in the United States is 37%.

Question 6.  What percent of the U.S. population did not have private health insurance or government-provided health insurance coverage in 2019, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic? 0% to 10%, 10% to 20%, 20% to 30%, 30% to 40%, or more that 40%?

            13%    0% to 10%

35%     10% to 20%

30%     20% to 30%

14%     30% to 40%

8%       More than 40%

CORRECT ANSWER: About 28.9 million Americans were uninsured in 2019, 8.8% of the U.S. population.ARTICLE TAGSGOVERNMENT & POLITICSAUTHOR

Justin HaskinsJustin Haskins is the Editorial Director and a Research Fellow at The Heartland Institute.Full Biojhaskins@heartland.org@JustinTHaskins

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Positive Spin On 10 Months of Covid

Remember when local schools announced they were closing for 2 weeks in March 2020 due to the mysterious novel Coronavirus? Many thought COVID would disrupt our lives for a very short time but here we are 10 months later with most local schools barely resuming in-person instruction and the future is anyone’s guess.

Imagine the school and business closures only lasted 2 weeks as initially announced, you can be sure we would have forgotten the virus ever existed by now, just like most people can’t tell you when the swine flu pandemic happened. But after 10 months of unprecedented global disruption, you can be sure the COVID era will be seared into the collective memory of humanity for a very long time.

In this week’s Torah portion Va’eira we learn about seven of the ten plagues G-d afflicted the Egyptians for enslaving the Jews. Many who are familiar with the story of Exodus don’t realize that more than ten months elapsed from when Moses first demanded Pharaoh let the people go until they actually left. Each plague was a one month procedure. For three weeks Moses warned them of the impending plague and each one lasted a week.

Only after enduring miraculous harassment for close to a year, Pharaoh finally snapped and chased the Jews out of the land in mere hours, which presents the glaring question: Why could G-d not whisk the Jews out of Egypt within hours of Moses arriving with the promise of redemption?

Imagine Jews in Auschwitz were told that G-d would first patiently afflict their oppressors for 10 months and only then take them out of the barbed wires. They would surely forgo seeing their murderous captors suffer and prefer to get out of there immediately. Why did the exodus from Egypt need to happen over such a long period of time?

The 10 plagues were not just a punishment for the Egyptians’ sadistic behavior. They were designed to disprove their heathen ideology and prove to them and to the rest of the world that G-d is in control of the universe. Had the Jews been whisked away from slavery in a matter of hours, days or even weeks, it would have been big news for a while but forgotten almost as quickly as it happened. Only because Egypt endured more than 10 months of divine harassment in such a public way did the knowledge of G-d’s omnipotence remain seared in humanity’s collective memory forever.

The COVID era is unique in the fact that people everywhere experienced its disruptions personally. But aside from the devastating pain, loss and financial ruin it wrought, it also revealed the deep reservoirs of perseverance and goodness we all possess. The outpouring of concern for neighbors, friends, community members and complete strangers is simultaneously astonishing and heartening. Many utilized the many extra hours suddenly available because of the closures to increase their Torah study and try out new Mitzvahs, discovering a new appreciation for their Judaism.

These past 10 months will reshape our lives and the world we live in for generations to come and it is up to us to choose which part of the experience will remain engraved in our collective memories. Let’s ramp up the unique positivity we can generate specifically during this once-in-a-lifetime situation and ensure that we can be proud of this era’s lasting effects.


Rabbi Mendel

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