Is America shifting on Israel, or is the media shifting on Israel?

June 16, 2009

One of the things I love almost as much as the news is the narrative being told about the events. It’s difficult for any given person to separate the facts and the actual events taking place from the media narrative being told about it. The Iran story that I’ve been watching lately is a perfect example. No one is really 100% sure what the facts are or what even constitutes fact. MSNBC will spin it one way. Fox and/or Mitt Romney will blame Obama. Bloggers will each try to put their own spin on it. And gradually, the narrative being constructed by the media may or may not reflect the actual facts.

Since Iran has been the Middle East story of the week, and America seems to be able to focus on only one Middle Eastern country at a time, the other big Middle East story of the week hasn’t been getting quite as much attention other than from foreign policy geeks. That story, of course, is the Israel-Palestine peace process.

A few weeks ago President Obama met with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu. In early June, Obama delivered a speech to the Middle East from Cairo. This past Sunday, Netanyahu addressed his people on the topic of the peace process.

After these three historic events, a new narrative has emerged: America’s relationship with Israel is changing. Over the past couple of weeks have seen a plethora of articles and blog posts from both seasoned journalists and amateur bloggers alike, all suggesting the same ideas: the power of the legendary Israel lobby is weakening. President Obama is pressuring Netanyahu. Obama is the next Jimmy Carter [because Carter was the last US president who put real pressure on Israel to make peace]. Americans are gradually shifting from unconditionally supporting Israel to supporting a two-state solution. America’s relationship with Israel is changing dramatically. It’s a new chapter in the two countries’ relationship.

The question to me is: has American public opinion on support for Israel really changed? Or is this a shift in the media narrative but not actually a shift in America’s opinions and policy? Is the course of American foreign policy really shifting, or is this talk from speculative cable news pundits?

Is it REALLY a new era in America’s approach to Israel and Palestine? Or am I hoping for too much here?



  1. Hi Nisha,

    1. the media narrative is something I often think about, as I try to discern fact from narrative in every article I read. However, as you point out, this is an incredibly difficult process, which is why I read countless articles on the same topic from different journalists, bloggers, and outlets. Time consuming, but so worth it.

    2. Thanks for highlighting the Israeli-Palestine peace process. I’m afraid I’m one of the many who has overlooked this issue in light of the election in Iran.

    3. Welcome to NMS today!


    • thanks yo! 🙂 I’ve been debating for a while whether I wanted to write about Israel and Palestine or not. I’m glad someone liked it!

  2. Interesting post, Nisha! First of all, let me say that I don’t think US public opinion CAN change in a flash just like that. Americans I think are still pro-Israel, quite overwhelmingly so.

    However, the ideology of our President HAS changed. Obama is much more willing to embrace the idea of a two state solution, and since he is the face of the American public, it gives the perception that Americans are behind it. But although we’ve elected him, it doesn’t mean that everyone agrees with this, and it doesn’t mean that American opinion has shifted suddenly.

    Because Obama IS representing his policy clearly to the world, the media certainly picks up on this policy shift, yet I don’t think the media’s reporting demonstrates that the public opinion of Americans themselves has changed so significantly.

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