Protester wrapped in Israeli flag 311 R.
(photo credit: Reuters)
WASHINGTON – Americans’ support for Israel is up, with the increase coming from
unexpected sectors, an Israel Project poll released on Thursday
So-called “opinion elites” and Democratic voters drove the
shift, which pegged American voter support for Israel around the 60 percent mark
in the survey conducted last week.
US Jews strongly support Israel, new poll shows
The poll demonstrated that support for
Israel among President Barack Obama’s Democratic voters was on the rise, and
that the majority of Americans believed that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
was more committed to peace than his Palestinian counterpart.
Israel among Democrats has risen by 10 percentage points in the past six months,
while support among independent voters and Republicans has remained
The current support for Israel reflects the highest rate since
2009 among polls conducted for the Israel Project. “Opinion elites” – responders
who display high engagement in foreign policy, education and income – showed an
even more pronounced level of support, exceeding the general sample by 7
“This poll shows that Israel is significantly more
popular among American voters than either the president or Congress,” Israel
Project Founder and President Jennifer Laszlo-Mizrahi said. “Second, it shows
that the American public really supports the peace process and the two-state
Laszlo-Mizrahi said that American support for Israel had been
improved in recent months by Obama’s September 21 speech at the UN General
Assembly in which he reaffirmed Israel’s right to exist.
In addition, she
said, “during the situation involving the release of Gilad Schalit, the American
public saw and appreciated the wrenching agony surrounding the decision to
release hundreds of convicted terrorists for one soldier. Americans
respected Israel’s commitment to the safety of its citizens.”
characterized Israel as “one of our strongest allies” (68%) and a “democracy”
(66%) while rejecting the notion that Israel is “extremist” (61%) or
“responsible for the violence” (65%).
Over half of those polled – 56% –
consider Palestinians to be “extremist” and an “obstacle to peace,” and 55% do
not consider Palestinians to be “victims.”
The voters polled cited
women’s rights, freedom of speech, voting, freedom of religion, and the threat
of terrorism (24%) as the top reasons they are proud of America’s strong
alliance with Israel – although none of those reasons appeared as clearly
Lazslo-Mizrahi said that some of these reasons, particularly
women’s rights, resonate particularly strongly in contrast to recent
developments in Arab countries, such as calls to institute Shari’a law and
polygamy in Libya.
What was dominant was support for a two-state solution
that would recognize “Israel as a homeland of the Jewish people and Palestine as
the homeland of the Palestinian people.” Seventy- three percent of voters, and
86% of opinion elite said that they supported such a plan.
Obama, in a conversation with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, was caught
expressing frustration with Netanyahu’s efforts on the peace process, a majority
of American voters (60%) said that Netanyahu and Israel are committed to peace,
while 52% say that President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority are not
committed to that end.
The poll also found strong concern regarding
Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
“America has become very partisan, but this is
a subject that seems to cross that divide,” Lazslo-Mizrahi
Two-thirds (65%) of those polled view Iran negatively, and there is
strong support for varied actions against Teheran, including supporting
opposition groups in the country (82%), which can be taken toward Iran if it
does not stop its nuclear program.
Respondents listed support for Hamas
and Hezbollah (30%), and statements by Iran’s government that it wants to wipe
Israel off the map (28%) as top reasons of concern regarding the Islamic