Majority of Americans Sympathize With Israel, But Support Slips, Poll Shows

March 6, 2019 Updated: March 6, 2019

Americans maintain a largely positive view of Israel, a recent Gallup poll shows, although support for the Jewish state’s side in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has somewhat diminished among liberals, Democrats, and even moderate and liberal Republicans.

All in all, 69 percent of Americans held a very or somewhat positive view of Israel as a country, according to the poll conducted from Feb. 1 to Feb. 10 (pdf). Only 28 percent had an unfavorable view.

Just a year ago, 74 percent had a favorable view—the most since 1991.

The decline mirrored somewhat waning support for Israelis versus Palestinians in terms of the Middle East situation, where 59 percent of Americans sympathized with the Israelis this year—down from 64 percent a year ago and the lowest since 2009.

The sympathy slip had a partisan slant, Gallup found in looking at “net sympathies toward Israel—the percentage who sympathize more with Israel minus those sympathizing more with the Palestinians—among the main ideological groups within each party.”

In this breakdown, conservative Republicans supported Israelis more than ever, with 81 percent net sympathy in 2017-2019. The net sympathy percentage among moderate/liberal Republicans dropped from 58 percent to 52 percent, and among moderate/conservative Democrats from 35 percent to 28 percent, and among liberal Democrats from 17 percent to just 3 percent.

“What this means is that nearly as many liberal Democrats now sympathize more with the Palestinians [38 percent] as with the Israelis [41 percent], with the rest favoring neither side or unsure,” the pollster’s senior editor, Lydia Saad, said in the March 6 release.

A slight majority (53 percent) of Americans also thought President Donald Trump is not “doing enough to find a peaceful solution to the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians.” While 77 percent of Republicans thought the opposite, only third of independents and moderates agreed with them, along with mere 16 percent of Democrats.

Trump on Israel

Trump has repeatedly affirmed U.S. support of Israel as its strongest ally in the Middle East. Trump was also the first president to make good on his promise to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that since Trump became president, relations between Israel and the United States have “never been stronger” and that Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital “will be remembered by our people throughout the ages.”

The Trump administration also withdrew the United States from UNESCO, due to the U.N. agency’s bias against Israel. Following the decision, Israel also announced it would withdraw from the organization.

Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, married conservative Jew Jared Kushner and converted to Judaism; both are senior advisers at the White House.

Omar Rebuke

The House of Representatives is preparing to vote on a resolution condemning anti-Semitism after a freshman member, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), twice made remarks deemed anti-Semitic.

The vote on the resolution was delayed possibly until March 7, Politico reported, as some Democrats pushed to add to the resolution a condemnation of hatred toward a plethora of other groups.

“We’re still discussing it,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said March 5. “The sentiment is that it ought to be broad-based. What we’re against is hate, prejudice, bigotry, white supremacy, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism.”

Trump responded to the situation in a March 6 tweet: “It is shameful that House Democrats won’t take a stronger stand against Anti-Semitism in their conference. Anti-Semitism has fueled atrocities throughout history and it’s inconceivable they will not act to condemn it!”

Follow Petr on Twitter: @petrsvab

RECOMMENDED