If you needed more proof that the old paradigm of unwavering bipartisan support for Israel is now in the rearview mirror, take a look at the results of this Bloomberg Politics poll on American attitudes regarding Middle East foreign policy.
While it should come as no surprise that Republicans are less optimistic than Democrats about the tentative multilateral nuclear deal recently agreed to with Iran, the fact that 2/3 of Republican respondents said that they would "support Israel's interests even when they diverge from America's" shows just how partisan an issue Israel has become after a half-century of nearly universal bipartisan support for the Jewish state.
I recently wrote that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's controversial address to Congress, perceived by many Democrats as a slap to President Obama, would likely signal a sea change in reflexive support for Israel by both parties in Congress. However, the shocking takeaway from the Bloomberg poll is that Republicans, by a substantial margin, would put a foreign country's interests ahead of their own.
Calling it "further erosion of the old mantra that politics stops at the water's edge," Bloomberg reports:
Religion appears to play an important role in shaping the numbers. Born-again Christians are more likely than overall poll respondents, 58 percent to 35 percent, to back Israel regardless of U.S. interests. Americans with no religious affiliation were the least likely to feel this way, at 26 percent. Ideological identification also has a strong connection: 62 percent of self-identified conservatives say supporting Israel is key, while that drops to 35 percent among moderates.
Essentially, the hardest-core Christians and conservatives have such reverence for the Jews of the Holy Land and such absolute distrust in President Obama (according to Bloomberg, "Republicans say they feel more sympathetic to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu than to their own president, 67 percent to 16 percent), they would actually support policies against their own national interest.
Too soon to tell if this means we'll be seeing 2016 bumper stickers for GOP candidates emblazoned with "Their Country, Right or Wrong!"