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American popular support for Israel has reached its highest level since the first Gulf War according to the results of a Gallup poll released on Monday.
Conservative Republicans and religious believers gave Israel the greatest support the survey found, but the report noted the Jewish state's support among Christian Americans does not lie only with fundamentalists but cuts across denominational lines, with Roman Catholics supporting Israel by the same margin as Protestants.
Gallup asked, "In the Middle East situation, are your sympathies more with the Israelis or more with the Palestinians?" Overall, sympathy for Israel was measured at 59 percent whereas support for the Palestinians was 15%. Only 8% of Americans surveyed had no opinion, while 13% supported neither side, and 5% supported both sides equally. The poll was conducted February 6-9 and surveyed 5024 randomly selected American adults.
Support for Israel was the second highest ever recorded in the 27 times the poll has been taken since 1988. The highest level of American solidarity with Israel was at 64% in 1991 during the Gulf War. The low point was in 1988, and again in 1996 and 1997, when support for Israel registered 37%. Sympathy for the Palestinian cause among Americans reached a nadir during the first Gulf War at 7%, and peaked at 18% in February 2005.
While Protestant church leaders have figured prominently among Israel's American supporters, Gallup reported, "White Catholics are no different than white Protestants and whites who identify with other non-Catholic religions" in their support of the Jewish state.
Among white survey participants, Protestants backed Israel over the Palestinians by 63% to 14%, Roman Catholics 64% to 13%, and non-Christian religious believers at 66% to 10%. Support among those who espoused no religion was still overwhelmingly in favor of Israel, at 45% to 19%.
Gallup also reported that support for Israel within the US follows party lines. Republicans supported Israel over the Palestinians at a rate of 72% to 11%, compared to Democrats at 47% to 20%.
Among those expressing a political or ideological preference, conservative Republicans backed Israel over the Palestinians by the largest margin, 78% to 7%. Liberal Democrats, while still backing Israel over the Palestinians, had the lowest level of support at 43% to 23%.
Gallup noted that Israel's hard-core supporters in the US are found among President George W. Bush's political base. "Frequent churchgoers who are Republicans have the highest levels of sympathy to Israelis," Gallup reported.