Pew Poll: Americans Divided by Party on Gaza Conflict

Monday, 28 Jul 2014 07:38 PM

By Greg Richter

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The Israeli-Hamas conflict has Americans divided by party, according to a Pew Research Center poll released Monday.

Republicans are more likely to side with Israel in the current conflict than are Democrats, according to the poll taken over the weekend.

Sixty percent of Republicans say Hamas is more to blame than Israel for the current violence, while Democrats are more closely divided. Twenty-nine percent of them say Hamas is more to blame, while 26 percent blame Israel more, and 18 percent say both sides share equal blame.

Israel began a ground assault in Gaza on July 17 after enduring days of rocket attacks from Hamas. Israel was able to shoot down most of Hamas' rockets through its Iron Dome defense system.

Israel's rocket responses have killed more than a thousand people in Gaza, many of them civilians. That has brought criticism over the uneven battle because Israel has suffered fewer than 100 deaths. But Israel says it warns that its attacks are coming and notes that Hamas launches its attacks from civilian homes and schools.

Almost half —  46 percent —  of Republicans say Israel's response was about right, according to the poll, while 19 percent say it hasn't gone far enough. Only 16 percent say Israel has gone to far.

Among Democrats, 35 percent say Israel has gone too far, with a similar number, 31 percent, saying the response has been about right. Only 9 percent of Democrats think Israel has not gone far enough.

Liberal Democrats are the most likely to call Israel's response excessive. Forty-four percent say it went too far, and 33 percent say it was about right. Seven percent said Israel didn't go far enough.

Slightly more than half, 51 percent, of Republicans say Israel acted appropriately, while only 24 percent thought it went too far. Seven percent thought it did not go far enough.

Americans as a whole blame Hamas most, at 40 percent. Nineteen percent blame Israel most.

But divisions can be seen in other demographics, including age. Older Americans are more likely to side with Israel, with 39 percent of those over 50 saying Israel's response has been about right. Only 22 percent said it had gone too far.

Those under 50 were evenly split, with 33 percent saying Israel's actions were appropriate and 29 percent calling them excessive.

Forty percent of white people say Israel has acted appropriately, while 22 percent say it has gone too far. Slightly more than a third of blacks and Hispanics say Israel has gone too far (36 percent and 35 percent), while slightly more than a quarter say it has been appropriate (27 percent and 28 percent).

College graduates are divided, with 32 percent saying Israel is right and 36 percent saying it has gone too far.

The poll was conducted July 24-27 among 1,005 adults.

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