Pew Poll: Americans Overwhelmingly Support Israel

Thursday, 17 Jul 2014 04:12 PM

By Jennifer G. Hickey

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The recent resurgence of violence in Gaza and the collapse of Middle East peace talks has not substantially affected Americans' strong support for Israel over Palestinians, according to a new Pew Center for People and the Press poll.

The survey, which was conducted July 8-14, found the sympathies of 51 percent of Americans lie with Israel, while 14 percent said they support the Palestinians more. 

The remaining 18 percent said they sympathized with neither side (15 percent) or with both sides (3 percent). The findings show little change from a survey Pew performed in April.

In that poll, support for Israel was slightly higher (53 percent) and for the Palestinians it was slightly lower (11 percent). And 16 percent volunteered that they sympathize with neither side. 

Pew concluded the poll before four Palestinian children were killed by an Israeli airstrike while playing on a beach in Gaza.

The latest survey found Republican support for Israel increasing from 68 percent to 73 percent. Among Democrats, there was only a slight downward shift from 46 percent in April to 44 percent.

The greatest change has been among Independent voters, whose support for Israel declined from 51 to 45 percent.

Only 17 of both Democrats and Independents, and 6 percent of Republicans, back the Palestinians.

"White evangelical Protestants remain more likely than members of other religious groups to sympathize more with Israel than the Palestinians (70%). White evangelical Protestants make up nearly a third of Republicans (31% of all Republicans and Republican leaners), so this accounts for at least some of the partisan gap in sympathies," said the Pew report.

Although Americans' views of the violence in the Middle East has remained steady over the last forty years that Pew has tracked this issue, there has been a notable change in the attitudes of those in the region.

A survey released July 1 found residents of predominantly Muslim countries expressing greater concern about the rise of Islamic extremism and that they view extremist groups, such as Hamas and Hezbollah, in a negative light. 

The survey, conducted in April, found support for suicide bombing among Muslims has declined over the past decade, including in the Palestinian territories, where 65 percent of respondents said they worried about extremism. In the Gaza Strip, 79 percent were concerned, which is higher than among those living in the West Bank (57 percent).

"Few Muslims in most of the countries surveyed say that suicide bombing can often or sometimes be justified against civilian targets in order to defend Islam from its enemies," Pew said.

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