Guess Who Supports Israel

Guess which political party supports Israel in its war against Hamas in Gaza. Hint: it’s not the one that claims the undying loyalty of American Jews.

According to a new Pew poll:

…There are sizable partisan differences in opinions about the Gaza conflict and in overall support for Israel. By nearly three-to-one (55% to 20%), Republicans approve of the military action Israel has taken in the Gaza Strip. Independents, by a smaller margin (44% to 29%), also approve of Israel’s actions. However, a plurality of Democrats (45%) disapproves of Israel’s military campaign, while just 29% express a positive opinion.

Nearly two-thirds of Republicans (65%) say that Israel’s response in Gaza has been about right, while very few (8%) believe Israel has gone too far. Fewer than half of Democrats (45%) say that Israel’s response has been about right and more than a third (36%) say it has been excessive.

These divisions extend to attitudes about the proper U.S. response to the crisis. A majority of Republicans (56%) say that the United States should publicly support Israel, compared with 37% of independents and 34% of Democrats. The plurality view among independents and Democrats, shared by roughly four-in-ten in each group (42% of independents, 40% of Democrats) is that the United States should say or do nothing in this conflict.

There are smaller partisan differences in views about the U.S. role in resolving the conflict. Fewer than one-in-five Democrats (18%), independents (17%) and Republicans (15%) say that the United States should be more involved than it is now in resolving the conflict. However, more Democrats (31%) and independents (26%) than Republicans (20%) say the United States should be less involved than it is now.

…The public has long sympathized more with Israel than the Palestinians in the Middle East conflict and that continues to be the case. More than four times as many people say they sympathize with Israel rather than the Palestinians (49% to 11%); 15% say they sympathize with neither side, while a sizable proportion offers no opinion (20%).

There has been a wide partisan gap in Mideast sympathies in recent years. Currently, 69% of Republicans say they sympathize more with Israel in the Middle East conflict, compared with 47% of independents and 42% of Democrats. Partisan differences in basic Mideast sympathies have been about that large since 2006.

Nearly one-in-five Democrats (18%) and 10% of independents currently say they sympathize more with the Palestinians than Israel in their dispute; just 5% of Republicans say they sympathize more with the Palestinians.

There also are substantial ideological, religious and age differences in views of the Middle East conflict. Three-quarters of conservative Republicans (75%) say they sympathize more with Israel while just 3% say they sympathize more with the Palestinians. The balance of opinion is closer among other ideological groups. Liberal Democrats express the most sympathy for the Palestinians: 34% of liberal Democrats say they sympathize more with Israel while 26% say they sympathize more with the Palestinians.

And guess which religious groups supports Israel. Hint: it’s not the one most American Jews fear and despise:

…White evangelical Protestants are far more likely to express greater sympathy for Israel than are members of other religious groups. Fully 70% of white evangelicals say they sympathize more with Israel while just 5% say they sympathize more with the Palestinians. About half of white mainline Protestants (48%) and white non-Hispanic Catholics (50%) side more with Israel, while about one-in-ten sympathize more with the Palestinians (13% of white mainline Protestants, 10% of white non-Hispanic Catholics).

Fewer than a third of the religiously unaffiliated (32%) expresses greater sympathy for Israel in the Mideast dispute, while 15% sympathize more with the Palestinians. A relatively large minority of the religiously unaffiliated (23%) sympathizes with neither side.

Those who are younger than 30 are less likely to sympathize with Israel than are older Americans. By 42% to 17%, more young people say they sympathize more with Israel than the Palestinians. Roughly half or more of those in older age groups sympathize more with Israel, while only about one-in-ten or fewer sympathize more with the Palestinians.

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