Mar 31, 2008 5:24 pm


The survey numbers are in and they show that Americans support Israel and worry about Iran.

According to a major new poll by Public Opinion Strategies and Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research commissioned by The Israel Project:

80 percent agree that now is the time to toughen sanctions to compel Iran to stop developing nuclear weapons; More Americans than ever believe the U.S. should take Israel's side in the conflict; Fully 76 percent of U.S. likely voters consider Israel a vital ally of the U.S.; Fully 89 percent believe Palestinian leaders must end the culture of hate that encourages children to become suicide bombers;

Washington, D.C. - A new bi-partisan poll (Word document & Powerpoint: Additional poll questions are included) commissioned by The Israel Project (TIP) shows the percent of Americans who believe the U.S. should take Israel’s side in the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is at an all time high: 71 percent in contrast to 8 percent who believe the U.S. should side with the Palestinians.

"The militant actions by Hamas and disarray among the Palestinians have moved Americans to side with Israel even more strongly than in the past," concluded Stanley Greenberg, Ph.D., of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research.

Among U.S. likely voters, 60 percent support Israel, while support for the Palestinians has fallen to 8 percent. Majorities voting for McCain (85 percent), Obama (62 percent) and Clinton (58 percent) all support America standing with Israel in the conflict. Additionally, 76 percent of U.S. likely voters consider Israel a vital ally of the United States, and more than two-thirds think U.S. foreign aid to Israel is a good investment.

American support for a two-state solution in the Middle East is at an overwhelming 84 percent. Nearly three-quarters of Americans believe that the establishment of a Palestinian state would help improve the economic future of the Palestinian people, and two-thirds believe it will make Israel more secure as a nation. Only 46 percent think that establishing a Palestinian state will bring lasting peace, and 93 percent agree Palestinians must stop their missile attacks before a two-state solution can bring peace to the region.

Americans see the Israeli government as committed to peace in the Middle East. In contrast, significant majorities do not believe the same about the commitment levels of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. While 66 percent of Americans believe the Israeli government is committed to reaching a peace agreement with the Palestinians, 61 percent believe the Palestinian Authority, led by President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank, is not committed to reaching a peace agreement with Israel. Similarly, 70 percent believe that the Hamas-led Palestinian leadership in Gaza is not committed to reaching such an agreement

According to 89 percent of Americans, Palestinian leaders must end the culture of hate that encourages children to become suicide bombers. In contrast, a strong majority of Americans believes Israel respects freedoms of religion, speech and press, as well as the rights of women and minorities.

Americans think the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is more about religion and ideology (69 percent) than land (24 percent). To reach a two-state solution, 70 percent agree Israel should be allowed to trade land with the Palestinians to avoid forcing tens of thousands of Jewish citizens to move from the West Bank. A plurality disagrees that Israel must give up its West Bank settlements and divide Jerusalem for there to be peace.

Fully 84 percent of Americans agree Israel should remain a Jewish state and a homeland for the Jewish people. Nearly two-thirds believe that Jerusalem should stay entirely under Israel’s control because Israel ensures that all the Christian, Muslim and Jewish holy sites remain open and safe for all faiths. Only 20 percent believe that Jerusalem should be divided.

“It is interesting to note that only slightly more than half of likely voters have contact with any Jewish person,” commented Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, founder and president of The Israel Project. “Even among those who do know someone Jewish, only 18 percent have heard anything about Israel from Jews in the past year. This shows once again that American support for Israel is based not on Jewish influence, but rather on core shared values between the two countries. There is clear and strong support for Israel among all faiths in America.”

Only 14 percent of Americans blame Israeli leaders for the current humanitarian crisis in Gaza, while 64 percent blame Hamas leaders who control Gaza. A vast majority of 90 percent of Americans agree that, just as the US would defend itself against daily rocket fire, Israel must defend itself and take action to end terror attacks against its civilian population. Nearly three-quarters think Hamas purposely puts the Palestinian civilian population in harm’s way by using them as human shields. Consequently, 64 percent think Israel cannot be blamed for Palestinian casualties when it attacks terrorists.

Neil Newhouse of Public Opinion Strategies observed that, “Despite the efforts of the Palestinian leaders to pin the blame on Israel for Gaza's crisis, Americans blame Hamas by an overwhelming margin.”

Additionally, 45 percent believe that until Hamas stops shooting rockets at Israel and recognizes its right to exist, Israel has no obligation to continue to provide Gaza with basic goods and services and Gaza should be forced to get all of its electricity from another country. Nonetheless, Israel still provides significant humanitarian support to Gaza on a regular basis.[1]

Said Mizrahi, “Americans clearly understand that Israel is a democracy facing tremendous security risks. More than 4,000 rockets have been fired from Hamas-controlled Gaza into Israel since Israel left all of Gaza in 2005. Americans recognize and understand the actions that Israel must take to defend its citizens.”

Support for Israel's security fence remains strong at 62 percent, and 77 percent of Americans believe Israeli checkpoints in the West Bank are justified to protect Israeli citizens from terrorism. By almost two-to-one (60 to 32 percent), Americans believe Israel should use force to re-occupy Gaza if nothing else works to stop the missile attacks.

Mizrahi added, “The threat of terrorism coming from Gaza is all the more real because of the support that Hamas and the terrorists in Gaza are getting from Iran, which is the world’s largest state sponsor of terror. The training, weaponry and money are all being used to target innocent civilians in schools, living rooms and playgrounds in southern Israel. The time for strong economic and diplomatic action to curb the threat of a nuclear Iran is now.”

A full 70 percent of likely American voters support expanding United Nations economic and diplomatic sanctions against Iran. Additionally, 80 percent agree that now is the time to toughen the sanctions to compel Iran to stop developing nuclear weapons. Most Americans believe the threat posed by Iran stretches beyond Israel, reaching much closer to home: nearly two-thirds of Americans say they would feel less safe if Iran successfully developed a nuclear weapon.

The poll of 800 U.S. Likely Voters was conducted by telephone March 18-20, 2008 for The Israel Project by Neil Newhouse of Public Opinion Strategies and Stan Greenberg of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research. The margin of error is +/- 3.5 percent.

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