Poll: Most young Americans think Israel should be ‘ended and given to Hamas’

Majority of all respondents support Israel, but results from 18-24 age group show majority think IDF campaign ‘genocidal,’ while saying calls for genocide of Jews are legitimate

Illustrative: Pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel demonstrators rally near Columbia University in New York on November 15, 2023. (Spencer Platt/ Getty Images via AFP)
File: Pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel demonstrators rally near Columbia University in New York on November 15, 2023. (SPENCER PLATT / Getty Images via AFP)

Over half of young Americans surveyed on Israel’s conflict with Hamas believe the Jewish state should cease to exist, and instead be replaced by a Palestinian entity, according to an online poll conducted this week.

The monthly Harvard CAPS/Harris poll found continuing support for Israel in its campaign against Hamas among every age demographic but 18- to 24-year-olds.

Overall, the survey found that 81 percent of respondents back Israel. Among the youngest age bracket, though, support is evenly split between Israel and Hamas.

On several questions, voters in that age group seemed to express contradicting or muddled views. For instance, despite 51% replying in the affirmative when asked if Israel should be “ended and given to Hamas and the Palestinians,” 58% of respondents in the group also thought Hamas should be removed from running Gaza.

However, most of the entire pool of respondents (60%) preferred a two-state solution to the conflict.

The survey found that 66% of respondents in the 18-24 age group think that Hamas’s October 7 massacre constituted genocide. At the same time, 60% think that the attacks were justified by Palestinian grievances, indicating that they believe that genocide of Israelis is justified.

File: Israeli soldiers walk past houses destroyed by Hamas terrorists in Kibbutz Be’eri on the Gaza border, October 14, 2023. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Overall, 73% of respondents said the onslaught was genocide, and similarly 73% believed it to be unjustified.

Additionally, a majority of all respondents across the board view the October 7 massacre — when Hamas-led terrorists rampaged through southern communities, killing 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and kidnapping some 240 to Gaza — as a terrorist attack (84%), including 73% in the 18-24 bracket.

Sixty-three percent of all respondents answered that Israel was trying to defend itself with its military offensive aimed at eliminating Hamas, which has ruled the Strip since 2007. But 60% of 18- to 24-year-olds said that the campaign constitutes genocide against Gazans.

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza has claimed that, since the start of the war, more than 18,800 people have been killed, mostly civilians. These figures cannot be independently verified and are believed to include some 7,000 Hamas terrorists, according to Israel, as well as civilians killed by misfired Palestinian rockets. Another estimated 1,000 terrorists were killed in Israel during and in the wake of the October 7 onslaught.

Young people were also against the overall trend on the question of a ceasefire: While 64% of respondents said a ceasefire should be agreed to only after the release of hostages and Hamas being booted from power, 67% of 18- to 24-year-olds favored an unconditional deal that would leave things as they are.

The poll also asked respondents about antisemitism on university campuses, which has been on the rise since the beginning of the war.

Smoke rises following an Israeli bombardment in the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023. (AP/Ariel Schalit)

Many 18- to 24-year-olds seemed to be okay with hate speech at universities: According to the poll, 53% of young people thought students should be free to call for Jewish genocide on campus without punishment, though 70% said such calls constituted hate speech.

Out of all respondents, 74% answered that those who make the calls should face disciplinary action, while 79% said the calls were hate speech.

The survey also asked respondents about the congressional hearing on college antisemitism earlier this month, when the presidents of Harvard, MIT, and the University of Pennsylvania failed to answer in the affirmative that calls for Jewish genocide violate the universities’ code of conduct, saying only that they do so in certain contexts.

Their responses provoked a backlash from Republican opponents, along with alumni and donors who said the university leaders are failing to stand up for Jewish students on their campuses. Penn’s president Liz Magill resigned due to the criticism, while the other two have remained in their positions.

While 67% of 18-to 24-year-olds think the presidents of Harvard, MIT, and Penn universities went far enough in condemning antisemitism, when faced with comments they made during congressional testimony — that calls for Jewish genocide are only punishable depending on the context — 73% said they should resign.

Dr. Claudine Gay, president of Harvard University, Liz Magill, president of University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Pamela Nadell, professor of History and Jewish Studies at American University, and Dr. Sally Kornbluth, president of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, testify before the House Education and Workforce Committee at the Rayburn House Office Building on December 5, 2023 in Washington, DC. The committee held a hearing to investigate antisemitism on college campuses. (Kevin Dietsch / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

Furthermore, a majority of respondents (68%) acknowledged that antisemitism is prevalent on university campuses, with 63% of 18- to 24-year-olds responding in the affirmative.

The poll also asked respondents who they believed was responsible for antisemitism on campus, with 24% saying the hatred has always had a presence; 20% blamed students; 18% left-wing political movements; 11% university presidents and administrators; 11% foreign funding of universities and student groups; 7% university professors; and 8% answered none of the above.

Only 8% in the 18-24 bracket believed antisemitism had always existed on campus.

Most of those in that age bracket said they watched or read about the presidents’ testimonies in the poll, which was conducted online among 2,034 registered voters on December 13 and 14.

JTA contributed to this report.

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