Since the turn of the century, Gallup has surveyed Americans' sentiment regarding Israel and the Palestinians. Its most recent study of more than 1,000 Americans conducted in February shows that during that period, the highest percentage of Americans (75%) viewed Israel very/mostly favorable in 2021, with the lowest favorable percentage (58%) found in 2002.
With the most recent Israeli-Palestinian conflict playing out – with the Palestinians' Hamas terrorists hurling thousands of rockets into Israel – it is suspected that support for Israel has risen in past weeks.
However, when it comes to party lines, Republican are much more likely to view Israel favorably (85%) when compared to Democrats (66%).
When it comes to Americans' sympathies in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a majority stand on the Israelis' side (58%), versus 25% who back the Palestinians. Support for the sides was lower in 2001 (51% for Israelis vs. 16% for Palestinians). The highest Israeli support (64%) and the lowest Palestinian support (12%) both came in 2013.
During this century, the highest favorable opinion of the Palestinian Authority (P.A.) by Americans was recorded this year (30%), with the lowest occurring in 2013 (15%).
When broken down by party lines, 14% of both Democrats and Republicans viewed the P.A. favorably in 2002, but the political divide widened by 2021, when 38% of Democrats favored the governing group that co-leads its people with Hamas, while 21% of Republicans currently share this favorable view of the P.A. This year marks Democrats' highest favorability rating for the P.A., while Republicans' highest (25%) came in 2005. Democrats never dropped below a 14% favorability, while Republicans' lowest year came in 2015 (9%).
Partisan view of Israeli/Palestinian conflict
Democrats and Republicans have substantially different views of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, with the Left's allegiance shifting away from Israel.
In 2002, 48% of Democrats sided with the Israelis vs. only 18% siding with the Palestinians, but by 2021, only 42% still back Israel, with 39% now taking the Palestinians' side. Gallup found that 2020 was the one year when more Democrats (41%) favored Palestinians over Israelis (38%). Their greatest year of support for Israel was in 2011 (55%).
When it comes to the percentage of Democrats and Republicans sympathizing more with the Israelis minus the percentage sympathizing with the Palestinians, the party divide has opened up since 2002, when Republicans stood at 52% vs. Democrats' 31%.
In 2021, Republican sympathy for Israel stands at 68% more for Israel (72% for conservative Republicans), with Democrats at 3% (-15% for liberal Democrats). The gap was even wider last year, with Republicans at 76% and Democrats at -3%.
Media getting to the young?
Gallup also broke the survey down by age brackets (18 to 35, 35 to 54, and 55 and older) and found that the percentage sympathizing more with the Israelis minus the percentage sympathizing more with the Palestinians was about the same (approximately 35%) for all age groups in 2001. However, by 2021, the percentages went to 45% for those 55 and older, 34% for 35- to 54-year-olds, and a mere 13% for those between 18 and 35.
When it comes to Democrats' preference for the U.S. to use diplomatic pressure in the Middle East, 38% wanted to put more pressure on the Israelis in 2007 compared to 50% in 2021, while 33% wanted more pressure on the Palestinians in 2007 vs. 30% in 2021.
Americans' support for an independent Palestinian state was also compared.
"Support was 53% in 2000, rising to 58% in 2003 and then falling below 50% from 2013 to 2018 before rising to 50% in 2019 and 52% in 2021," Gallup revealed, also showing that 26% opposed a Palestinian state in 2000 compared to 37% opposing its statehood in 2021.
Partisanship regarding Palestinian statehood was also discovered.
"Democrats are more supportive than Republicans of Palestinian statehood – 65% vs. 38%, respectively, in 2021 – but support has generally been higher among both groups in recent years than it was from 2013 to 2017, when support nationally was at a low ebb," Gallup researchers pointed out.
Democrats drifting further left
After looking at the data, it was concluded that Democrats' shift away from Israel toward the Palestinians is "striking."
"From 2002 through 2014, Democrats were significantly more likely to side with the Israelis than the Palestinians," Gallup's Lydia Saad pointed out. "Since 2014, that preference has gradually faded, and now Democrats are about equally as likely to sympathize with the Palestinians as with the Israelis."
It was noted that overall, Democrats and younger adults demonstrate a growing sympathy for the Palestinians.
"Democrats' views are now at a tipping point, with their sympathy for the Palestinians roughly matching their sympathy for Israel, while liberal Democrats have fully crossed the threshold and now sympathize more with the Palestinians," Saad added. "It should be noted that most Democrats – including a majority of liberal Democrats – still view Israel favorably in general, even if they don't sympathize with its residents more than the Palestinians."