Americans’ support for Israel among highest ever recorded

Americans’ support for Israel among highest ever recorded

Even among Democrats and the young, Israel enjoys at least a two-to-one advantage over Palestinian Authority, Gallup finds

Israeli and American flags seen in Chicago, Illinois, 2014. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Israeli and American flags seen in Chicago, Illinois, 2014. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

In a study headlined “Americans remain staunchly in Israel’s corner,” the Gallup company published the findings of a major national poll that found backing for Israel among Americans remains extremely high, with some measures of support matching the highest previously recorded figures.

“Americans’ stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is as strongly pro-Israel as at any time in Gallup’s three-decade trend,” the polling research company said in the report, published Tuesday.

Fully 74 percent of American adults have a favorable view of Israel, while 23% have an unfavorable view. That’s the best showing for Israel in 27 years, since 1991’s 79% as Israel was battered by Iraqi missiles during the Gulf War.

Yet, the figures varied dramatically depending on political affiliation. Support for Israel is at 83% among Republicans, 72% among independents and 64% among Democrats.

The good news for Israel is a “reverse image” of Americans’ opinion of the Palestinian Authority, Gallup said, with 21% saying they have a favorable view of the Palestinian government and 71% reporting an unfavorable one.

The Palestinian Authority does better among Democrats, at 27%, than among independents (21%) or Republicans (12%).

It’s not all bad news for the PA, however: “This is the second consecutive year its favorable rating has been above 20%, after six years of readings below that level,” Gallup said.

As with other polls, the Gallup study found age was also a factor, with younger adults favoring Israel less than older ones, but still by a two-to-one margin. Adults 55 and older favored Israel over the PA by 80% to 18%. At ages 35-54, that shrank to 72% to 15%. At 18-34, support for Israel is at 65%, while support for the PA jumps to 31%.

Pro-Israel supporters rally on January 12, 2017 in front of the French Mission to the United Nations in New York. (AFP/Don Emmert)

The study measured not just support for Israel or the PA generally, but asked where Americans’ sympathies lay in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Nearly two-thirds of Americans, or 64%, say they are more sympathetic toward the Israelis than the Palestinians — “tying the high previously recorded in 2013 and 1991,” Gallup noted.

Backing for Palestinians is at 19%, a six-year high as well, equal to 2012’s survey results. The figure ranks “among the highest percentages favoring the Arab side of the conflict” since 1988, when Gallup measured 15% sympathizing more with the Palestinians than the Israelis.

Gallup also found that Americans seem to be taking sides in the conflict as never before, with fewer than ever, just 16%, responding with “both,” “neither” or “unsure.” That’s down from 23% in 2013.

As expected from other polling on the subject, while sympathy for Israel is up slightly among Democrats and independents, Republican sympathy for Israel is at an all-time high at a whopping 87%, up from 81% just last year. That figure has been in the low 80s or high 70s since 2006.

Democrats’ sympathy for Israelis, at 49%, is slightly higher than last year’s 47%, but lower than the 58% Israel enjoyed in 2014 amid the last conflict between Israel and Hamas.

Even so, Gallup noted that a trend line from 2001, when 42% of Democrats sympathized with Israel, shows a modest average rise over the years, with a modest decline since 2014’s high.

Independents sympathize with Israel at a rate of 59%, a figure that has held generally steady since 2008, when it was 58%.

When it comes to finding a path toward peace between the parties, Americans favor Israel by a two-to-one margin. According to the survey, 50% of Americans believe the US should pressure the Palestinians more, while 27% think the Israelis should be pressured more, figures mostly unchanged since 2013.

The poll was conducted among a random sample of 1,044 US adults in all 50 states and Washington, DC, between February 1 and 10, and has a margin of error of four percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

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