The Jerusalem Post late Tuesday reported on remarks made by a bipartisan group of American lawmakers visiting Israel – anchored on the Republican side by Rep. Ed Royce (CA) and on the Democratic side by Rep. Eliot Engel (NY) – that the outlet took as reaffirming the ties between Jerusalem and Washington were “as strong as ever.”
There have been swirling reports of strained relations, grounded in among other things a story that involved the Obama administration imposing increased scrutiny on arms transfers to Israel in the midst of Operation Protective Edge. White House and State Department officials went on the record at the time denying that there was anything unusual in the scrutiny, and subsequent reports indicted that the Hellfire missiles in questions would soon be released.
The Jerusalem Post – which printed its coverage of the Royce-Engel visit under the headline “Congressmen belie perception of trouble in Washington-Jerusalem ties” – quoted House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Royce underscoring the close relationship:
Royce said the “depth and breadth” of bipartisan support for Israel is evident in the hearings held by his committee, as well in debates both in the House and Senate. This support was on full display recently when the House passed a bill to replenish ordinance for Iron Dome by a vote of 425 to 8, he said. Likewise, he said, the House unanimously passed a resolution condemning Hamas for using human shields.
The paper also quoted Engel, the ranking member on the same committee, emphasizing that “both parties very strongly back the United States-Israel alliance, and the United States stands with Israel.” Engel went on to higlight how “despite any disagreements that the governments might have on smaller issues, on larger issues they are two democracies which share a common bond, common values and we care about the same things.”
The official Twitter account of the Israeli Prime Minister’s office meanwhile published a tweet reaffirming ties between the countries:
It heartens the people of Israel to have such strong support from the people, the government and the representatives of the USA.
— PM of Israel (@IsraeliPM) September 2, 2014
The deep American public support for Israel has long been taken by some of the nation’s top analysts as a critical basis for political support for the Jewish state, with Walter Russell Mead once having described it as “one of the most potent political forces in U.S. foreign policy.” A recent mini-controversy on the left – in which leading progressive politician Elizabeth Warren took a strong stance in support of Israel, opposite some critics who demanded that she criticize Operation Protective Edge – was treated as emblematic of the dynamic.
The Israel Project has conducted polling over the last decade on these and related issues, measuring support for Israeli opponents in general and for the Palestinians in particular. Support for the Palestinians as opposite Israel has not risen above 10 percent since 2002. That figure is equivalent to the percent of Americans who believe that they or a personal friend have been physically abducted by extraterrestrials.
[Photo: IsraeliPM / YouTube]