Scott McConnell comments on the yawning gap between public opinion and Congress on Israel and Palestine:
The point however is not that the American public is divided—though it is, or that public sentiment is shifting inexorably away from strong support for Israel to a more neutral stance, though that is true as well. It is that the actual sentiments of Americans are almost completely unrepresented in the American Congress….
That’s all true, and just needs one minor adjustment. Public opinion hasn’t been shifting towards support for U.S. neutrality in the conflict recently. That has been the majority view for decades at this point, and it has always been a large majority with 60-70% consistently agreeing that the U.S. shouldn’t take sides. That happens to be the right position for the U.S. to take in this case, and it is also the overwhelmingly popular one. The trick is that the huge majority in favor of neutrality doesn’t care very much about the issue one way or the other. Those insisting on a “pro-Israel” policy do, and it is a high priority for many of them. Most Americans might like U.S. neutrality in the conflict, but it evidently doesn’t matter very much to most of them. It is unfortunately more difficult to get people to be strongly against a one-sided policy than it is to get them to rally behind one side or the other. Unless they have very strong views on this question, politicians have no incentive to take risks on behalf of a position that will win them nothing but grief. This is how the massive gap between what Americans say they want and what their representatives vote for opens up, and why it seems unlikely to disappear anytime soon. Even so, it is worth remembering that U.S. policy on Israel and Palestine continues to be wildly at odds with what most Americans claim to want.