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Overwhelming majority of Turks dislike Israel, poll shows

Pew study shows similarly large numbers of Turkish people negatively view Hamas and Iran, as well as the US and EU

Turkish protestors set fire to an Israeli flag while shouting slogans during a demonstration against the Israeli military operation in Gaza, Saturday, July 19, 2014 in front of the Israeli Consulate in Istanbul. (photo credit: Ozan Kose/AFP)
Turkish protestors set fire to an Israeli flag while shouting slogans during a demonstration against the Israeli military operation in Gaza, Saturday, July 19, 2014 in front of the Israeli Consulate in Istanbul. (photo credit: Ozan Kose/AFP)

Most Turkish citizens hold unfavorable views of Israel, according to a recently released Pew Research Center survey.

The study, released Friday, found that 86 percent of Turkish people polled held unfavorable views toward the Jewish state, while just 2% said they had a positive view. The survey reflected the views of people polled in 2013. At the same time, however, 80% of Turks said they thought poorly of Hamas, the organization that rules the Gaza Strip and fought a 50-day war with Israel over the summer.

Ties between Israel and Turkey have grown increasingly fraught over the last five years, as the sides have squabbled over Jerusalem’s treatment of the Palestinians and Ankara’s support of Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Relations were all but cut after nine Turks were killed during clashes with Israeli commandos aboard a ship trying to bust Israel’s naval blockade on Gaza in 2010, and attempts at detente were put on hold during Israel’s war against Hamas-led Palestinian fighters in Gaza earlier this year.

While feelings toward Israel skewed negative more than any other country, it was hardly the only country that Turks thought of poorly, as the survey found that most held negative views toward the US (73%), European Union (66%), NATO (70%), Brazil (65%), China (68%), Russia (73%), Iran (75%), and Saudi Arabia (53%).

However, despite most holding a negative view toward the EU, 53% still want to join the politico-economic union.

Extremist organizations and their tactics were not immune from the wrath of the Turks, as 85% had a negative view of al-Qaeda and Hezbollah. A majority of Turkish Muslims (58%) also said that suicide bombings and other tactics targeting civilian populations were unacceptable.

Pew did not yet have data on Turkish sentiments toward the Islamic State jihadist organization, which has conquered large swaths of Syria and Iraq and is currently battling Syrian Kurds in the Syrian town of Kobani on the border with Turkey.

Pew says it has yet to poll Turkish citizens on their views toward their own country since a wave of protests erupted last year that sparked a violent crackdown by Turkish police, but as of spring 2012, 78% had favorable views of Turkey, and overall life satisfaction has been steadily rising since 2002.

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