Support grows even among Democrats, proving once again that the so-called “Israel Lobby” is the American people.
After a Pew Survey in January 2018 showed a weakening support for Israel among Democrats, particularly liberal Democrats, there was much gnashing of teeth in the pro-Israel community.
The results are being met with glee from anti-Israel activists, and with horror by Israel supporters. The blame is being laid on Trump’s strong support for Israel and close relationship with Bibi Netanyahu.
While Trump might contribute to liberals past year decline in sympathies for Israel, the fact is that liberal Democrats sympathizing less with Israel is over a 15 year trend.
We have covered that trend in many prior posts, including both Pew and Gallup surveys. The February 2017 Gallup survey showed continued strong support for Israel.
I’ll be interested to see the annual Gallup survey, which usually is released in February, and includes more data on undecided voters. In past Gallup surveys the decline in Democrat support had been more than offset by growth in Republican and Independents.
That the Trump factor is overstated is demonstrated by Pew Surveys dating back a decade….
So what’s going on here?
I don’t diminish the significance of these findings. I’ve said for years that the erosion of support for Israel among liberal, particularly self-identified young progressives, is real and should be addressed.
It is, in part, the result of two decades of extreme anti-Israel activism on campuses led by professors, and the BDS movement. The BDS movement readily describes boycotts as a “tactic,” not the end goal. They don’t really care about whether people buy Israeli products and interact with Israelis. What matters is that Israel be cast in a negative light, and connected through the “intersectionality” theory to other problems around the world. This is a generation-long propaganda campaign, and will take time to counter.
But it’s more than about Israel. It’s about a Democratic Party shifting hard left at its base. With that shift comes shrinking “sympathy” for Israel and shrinking pride in being American.
On February 28, 2018, Gallup published its survey of which foreign countries Americans like the most. The survey showed very strong favorability for Israel (74%, ranked 9th) and very low for The Palestinian Authority (21%). This represents an increase of 3% for Israel and a decrease of 3% for The Palestinian Authority since the last similar Gallup survey in February 2017.
On March 13, 2018, Gallup released its full survey on Israel and the Palestinians, and it confirmed my belief that the Pew survey hysteria was unwarranted, Americans Remain Staunchly in Israel’s Corner:
As the Trump administration prepares to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and is reportedly finalizing its broader Middle East peace plan, Americans’ stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is as strongly pro-Israel as at any time in Gallup’s three-decade trend. Sixty-four percent say their sympathies in the dispute lie more with the Israelis, tying the high previously recorded in 2013 and 1991.
Just 19% of Americans today sympathize more with the Palestinians than with the Israelis, slightly higher than the 15% in Gallup’s initial 1988 measurement and ranking among the highest percentages favoring the Arab side of the conflict in Gallup’s trend.
Meanwhile, the percentage of Americans who sympathize with neither side, with both sides or who have no opinion about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is now 16%, the lowest to date. This neutral category has been shrinking as more Americans take positions on the dispute.
Like Pew, Gallup found Republican support exceeded Democrat support for Israel. But of interest, Democrat support has increased:
Republicans account for much of the overall increase in sympathies for Israel since 2001, although both Democrats and political independents are also slightly more sympathetic toward the country.
- The percentage of Republicans sympathizing with Israel increased from 59% in February 2001 to 77% in the runup to the Iraq War, and has since crept past 80% on multiple occasions, reaching a new high of 87% this year.
- At 49%, Democrats’ preference for Israel is up from 42% in 2001, although similar to the average since then.
- Independents favoring Israel increased from 51% in 2001 to 58% in 2008 and has since held at about that level, registering 59% today.
Gallup finds, consistent with the past, that older Americans are more supportive of Israel than younger Americans. But even among that younger group, Israel still prevails by a wide margin.
Beyond party and consistent with Gallup previous findings by age, Israel also receives higher favorable ratings from adults 55 and older (80% favorable) than from those 35 to 54 (72%) or 18 to 34 (65%). Conversely, the Palestinian Authority receives somewhat better ratings from adults 18 to 34 (31% favorable) than from those 35 to 54 (15%) or 55 and older (18%).
Americans also want more pressure on the Palestinians:
Americans are about twice as likely to say the U.S. should put more pressure on the Palestinians (50%) than on the Israelis (27%) to resolve the conflict between the two peoples, similar to views in 2013. However, this differs from 2007 and 2008, when Americans were more divided on which side should receive more pressure, and at least 11% volunteered that the U.S. should be putting more pressure on both sides.
Gallup doesn’t break out “liberal Democrats” separately. Pew may still be right that liberal younger Democrats have weakening support for Israel, but they are an outlier.
There also is no indication that Trump’s strong support for Israel has weakened Americans’ overall support of Israel, contrary to many narratives.
The broad contours of Americans’ perspectives on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remain about the same under President Donald Trump as they’ve been in recent years. Most Americans view Israel favorably and the Palestinian Authority unfavorably, resulting in a strong tendency for Americans to sympathize with Israel in the territorial conflict and to call for greater diplomatic pressure to be placed on the Palestinians.
These finding reinforce a point I’ve made many times. The so-called “Israel Lobby” is the American people.DONATE
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