Partisan divide over Israel in the U.S. at historic level, poll finds

The Pew Research Center findings show Republicans more sympathetic than ever toward Israel, with Democrats increasingly divided, now equally likely to support the Palestinian cause.

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January 23, 2018 16:00
1 minute read.
People hold U.S. and Israel flags as they chant during a Pro-Israel rally.

People hold U.S. and Israel flags as they chant during a Pro-Israel rally outside the Israeli consulate in New York November 19, 2012.. (photo credit: BRENDAN MCDERMID/REUTERS)

WASHINGTON – Never has there been a greater divide between Democrats and Republicans on the subject of Israel in 40 years of polling, according to a survey published on Tuesday.

The Pew Research Center findings show Republicans more sympathetic than ever toward Israel, with Democrats increasingly divided, now equally likely to support the Palestinian cause. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remains a particularly divisive force.

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The poll is released as US Vice President Mike Pence continues his tour of Israel touting the policies of the Trump administration, which 30% of Americans believe “favors Israel too much,” according to the report.

Overall, 79% of Republicans sympathize with Israel compared to only 27% of Democrats.

Americans who are more favorably inclined to Israel are less likely to believe a two-state solution is possible than those inclined to the Palestinians. And belief in the possibility of peace is correlated with age: the younger you are, the more hopeful you are likely to be for an agreement.

“Since 2001, the share of Republicans sympathizing more with Israel than the Palestinians has increased 29 percentage points,” the pollsters found. “Over the same period, the share of Democrats saying this has declined 11 points.”

In November, the Jewish Democratic Council of America launched with a mission to reengage Democrats on the politics of Israel and to reclaim a supportive narrative.

Israel’s ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, addressed the group’s launch event, where he characterized bipartisan support for Israel as a strategic asset.

“You cannot fly a plane with one wing,” he said.


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