Britons feel more “unfavorable” to Israel than any other country worldwide except North Korea, a survey found.
The survey — taken in August and published Thursday by Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs — showed a massive surge in negative attitudes toward Israel since the previous such study, two years earlier. Thirty-five percent of Britons said they “feel especially unfavorable towards” Israel in the 2014 survey, compared to 17% in 2012.
That figure meant that Israel is regarded more unfavorably by Britons than Iran — 33% in the 2014 survey, compared to 45% in 2012. Only North Korea fares worse — regarded as especially unfavorable by 47% in 2014, compared to 40% in 2012.
Commenting on the dramatic rise in hostile attitudes to Israel, the compilers noted that, “The survey was conducted in August 2014 at a time when … Israel was engaged in a military operation in Gaza against Hamas that caused large numbers of civilian casualties.”
In a section summing up Britons’ attitudes to nations outside Europe, the authors noted that “North Korea is viewed most unfavorably (47%), followed by Israel (35%). The number of those viewing Israel unfavorably has increased by 18 points since 2012, presumably in response to the controversial military campaign in Gaza and the civilian casualties it caused, which were prominent in the news at the time the survey was conducted. Iran (33%) is the third most unfavorably viewed country, though its rating is down by 12 points compared with 2012. Pakistan (28%) and Nigeria (21%) complete the top five.
The Chatham House study — entitled “Internationalism or Isolationism? British Attitudes Towards the UK’s International Priorities” — was based on a YouGov poll in August which questioned a representative sample of 2,059 adults.
Britain will be holding general elections in May. Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron was broadly supportive of Israel during the summer conflict. Opposition Labor leader Ed Miliband was far more critical.