Poll indicates Democrats’ sympathies lie with Palestinians over Israel for 1st time

49% of Democratic respondents sympathize more with the Palestinians and 38% with Israelis; support for Israel among Republicans remains strong at 78%, Gallup survey finds

Illustrative: Pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel activists in New York City, March 30, 2022. (Luke Tress/Flash90)
Illustrative: Pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel activists in New York City, March 30, 2022. (Luke Tress/Flash90)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — For the first time, a poll by Gallup found that Democrats are likelier to sympathize with Palestinians than with Israelis, though a majority of Democrats have a favorable view of Israel.

Asked, “In the Middle East situation, are your sympathies more with the Israelis or more with the Palestinians?” 49% of Democrats sympathized more with the Palestinians and 38% sympathized more with the Israelis.

An additional 13% sympathized with neither, both, or had no opinion.

It was the first time since at least 2001 that more Democrats sympathized with the Palestinians than with the Israelis.

Sympathy for Israelis among Republicans remained strong, with 78% sympathizing more with the Israelis and 11% with the Palestinians.

Among independents, 49% sympathize with the Israelis and 32% with the Palestinians.

Overall, a majority, 54%, of Americans sympathize more with Israelis and 31% sympathize more with Palestinians.

“The resulting 23-point gap in Americans’ sympathy for Israel versus the Palestinians represents Israel’s slimmest advantage on this question in Gallup’s World Affairs poll trend,” Gallup said. “It is also the first time Israel has not enjoyed a better than 2-to-1 advantage over the Palestinians in Americans’ sympathies.”

The Celebrate Israel Parade in New York City, May 22, 2022. (Luke Tress/Times of Israel)

Majorities of both Republicans and Democrats view Israel favorably, according to Gallup. Overall, 68% of respondents have a favorable opinion of the country. Among Republicans, 82% view Israel favorably, and the figure for Democrats is 56%.

Last year, sympathies among Democrats in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were virtually tied, with 40% sympathizing more with Israelis and 38% sympathizing more with the Palestinians.

A decade ago, 55% of Democrats sympathized more with Israel, and 19% sympathized more with the Palestinians. Israel’s positive margin in the survey has progressively declined since then.

The trend in recent years, Gallup said in its release Thursday, has been toward increased sympathy toward the Palestinians, but it did not detail what caused the 11% surge in sympathy for the Palestinians among Democrats in the past year.

Halie Soifer, the CEO of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that Gallup’s question presents a false dichotomy and that the Democratic Party’s leadership is pro-Israel.

“Democrats – from President Biden on down – strongly support Israel’s safety and security,” she said. “There is no contradiction between being pro-Israel and supporting Palestinian rights, which is why Democrats continue to support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as well as security assistance for Israel and humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not a zero-sum game, and thus polling that presents it as a binary choice is inherently flawed.”

Matt Brooks, CEO of the Republican Jewish Coalition, said in a statement that declining Democratic sympathy for Israel “is an extremely troubling trend.”

Gallup also reported that sympathies for Israelis tended to diminish among younger voters. Baby boomers sympathize with Israelis over Palestinians by a margin of 46 points, but Palestinians hold a two-point advantage among millennials.

The phone poll of 1,008 voting Americans took place between February 1 and February 23. It had a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

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