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US Jews more likely than Christians to think Trump favors Israel ‘too much’

Pew poll finds American Jews split between backing Israel and liberal tendencies, while evangelicals overwhelmingly back administration’s policies on Israel

US President Donald Trump smiles at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, after signing a proclamation formally recognizing Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights, in the Diplomatic Reception Room at the White House, in Washington, DC, on March 25, 2019. (AP/Susan Walsh)
US President Donald Trump smiles at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, after signing a proclamation formally recognizing Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights, in the Diplomatic Reception Room at the White House, in Washington, DC, on March 25, 2019. (AP/Susan Walsh)

American Jews are more likely than American Christians to say that US President Donald Trump is favoring Israel too much in his dealings with Israelis and Palestinians, according to a study by the Pew Research Center released on Monday.

US Jews are among the most liberal-leaning American minorities, heavily favoring Democratic candidates in elections. They also have very high rates of support for Israel.

In the Trump era, the liberal impulse appears to be winning out.

While “US Jews have a strong attachment to Israel, they are divided in their assessment of Trump’s handling of the Israeli-Palestinian issue,” Pew noted in revealing the new findings on Monday.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks from Israel via video link at the annual AIPAC conference in Washington on March 26, 2019. (Jim Watson/AFP)

Fully 42 percent of American Jews say Trump “favors Israelis too much,” according to the study, which was conducted among US adults between April 1 and 15. A slightly higher 47% say he has struck “the right balance” between Israelis and Palestinians.

Just 6% of US Jews say Trump favors Palestinians too much.

Meanwhile, only 26% of Christians said Trump favors Israelis too much, while 59% said he has found the “right balance.”

In just over two years, Trump has recognized the Golan Heights as Israeli and Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, moving the US Embassy to the city. His administration has also balked at criticizing settlement building and cut support for the Palestinians, while expressing strident support for Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The moves, many of which upended decades of US policy, are seen as plays toward his right-wing and evangelical base, and he frequently mentions them during rallies in middle America.

Among evangelicals, fully 72% think Trump is balanced, and just 15% think he overly favors Israelis.

Illustrative: Evangelical Christians from various countries wave flags as they march to show their support for Israel in Jerusalem. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner, File)

While most Jews are Democrat, most evangelicals are Republican, according to Pew.

“The difference between evangelicals and Jews on this question partly reflects partisan divisions,” Pew says in the report.

Overall, Republicans mostly think Trump has struck the right balance between the Israelis and Palestinians (79%), while 53% of Democrats think Trump favors the Israelis too much.

The most critical Protestant denominations are the historically black churches, where 33% say he sides too much with Israelis and 40% say he has the right balance.

Among Catholics, 34% say he favors Israelis too much, while 51% say he has the right balance.

US President Donald Trump, left, and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas pose for a photograph during a joint press conference at the presidential palace in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on May 23, 2017. (AFP/Mandel Ngan)

The highest level of criticism of Trump as overly favorable to Israelis comes from those who are not religiously affiliated, at 47% — though 38% of them still say he has the right balance.

The religiously unaffiliated also showed similar attitudes towards Israelis and Palestinians themselves. Asked whether their view of the Israeli and Palestinian peoples were “favorable” or “unfavorable,” 57% of unaffiliated Americans had favorable views of Israelis (37% unfavorable), and a similar 54% (with 39% unfavorable) of Palestinians.

Among evangelicals, those who had a good opinion of Israelis (79%) far outnumbered those who had a good opinion of Palestinians (35%).

Not enough Jews were asked the favorability question to be counted in the results, Pew said.

When it came to the Israeli and Palestinian governments, however, views veered sharply to the negative, especially in the Palestinian case.

View of the US Consulate in Jerusalem’s Arnona neighborhood, Israel, shortly before it became the American embassy in Israel, February 24, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Among evangelicals, 61% said they had a favorable view of Israel’s government; just 13% of the Palestinian government.

Among Christians overall, the divide was roughly even between those who liked and disliked the Israeli government, at 48% favorable and 42% unfavorable. But it was much more critical of the Palestinian government, at 16% to 73% unfavorable.

Unaffiliated Americans had a similar — and low — opinion of both governments, with just 26% giving Israel’s a favorable rating and 24% giving the same to the Palestinian government.

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