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Signs of Change in General U.S. Public Opinion

Divide Over Israel Widens in Democratic Party
Roll Call  •  Rachel Oswald  •   27 July 2018
Party voices in favor of Palestinian rights, BDS are getting louder

On the surface, it looks like the U.S.-Israel relationship is having its best year ever. In May, President Donald
Trump fulfilled Israel’s dream of moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and his administration is preparing a Middle East peace plan that will almost certainly have Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s blessing.
Congress, meanwhile, is poised to approve $3.3 billion in new defense assistance to Israel, a new high.
But there are political undercurrents that spell trouble for what has traditionally been unquestioned U.S. support for Israel, particularly within the Democratic Party on the eve of a midterm election that could swing the balance of power in one or both chambers of Congress and perhaps profoundly and permanently change the dynamic between the longtime allies.

Democratic disillusionment with Israel, which has been quietly simmering for years, gained traction when Netanyahu spoke to a joint session of Congress urging lawmakers to oppose the Iran nuclear deal championed by the Obama administration. Dozens of Democrats defiantly boycotted the March 2015 speech.
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For the first time ever, a majority of Democrats say US should pressure Israel not Palestine
Mondoweiss  •  Michael Arria  •  25 March 2021

Gallup has released its annual polling on how Americans view the Israel/Palestine conflict and, for the first time ever, a majority of Democrats say the United States should focus its political pressure on Israel.

Israel remains quite popular in the United States, with 75% of respondents saying they view the country favorably and 58% saying they sympathize with Israelis. However, there are signs that this support for Palestine is beginning to increase. In 2020, the Palestinian Authority had a favorability rating of just 21%. That jumped to 30% this year.

This shift is much more stark when it comes to Democrats. For the first time ever a majority of them say that the United States should apply “more pressure on Israel” to make compromises, as opposed to “more pressure on Palestinians.” 53% of Democrats told the pollsters they want more pressure on Israel, which is up from 43% in 2018. A decade ago this position didn’t crack 38%.

The Gallup results are in line with similar surveys carried out over the last few years. In 2019, a Data for Progress poll found that 65% of Democratic voters support conditioning aid to Israel. A Center for American Progress poll from the same year had that number at 71%. A 2020 University of Maryland Critical Issues Poll found that 49% of Democrats had heard of BDS, and 48% of those who had heard of it said that they “strongly or somewhat” support the movement.
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American Attitudes: Changing Opinion on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Arab American Institute/Zogby Poll May 2021

Americans attitudes toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are moving in the direction of seeking a more balanced policy. There is, however, a deep partisan gap on many issues related to the conflict.
The split, where it exists, has become ideological with self-identified Liberals and Conservatives holding near mirror-image views on many issues.

5. When asked if the US “should always side with Israel” or “should act as a fair and impartial broker between Israelis and Palestinians,” 55% of US respondents say “fair and impartial broker” as opposed to only 27% who say we should "always side with Israel.” Democrats overwhelmingly support the honest broker role 63% to 20%, while Republicans are evenly divided 40% to 40%.

11. When asked about the efforts by some Democrats to hold off on $735 million in precision bombs for Israel approved by President Biden this month, we find overall opinion leaning away from Biden, especially among Democrats. Among all respondents, 43% agree with congressional Democrats who want to hold off on the weapons deal, while 32% support Biden’s approval of the sale of precision munitions to Israel. Among Democratic respondents, a majority supports congressional efforts to hold up on the sale (52%), while 27% support Biden’s approval. Republicans, on the other hand, support the sale by a margin of 42% to 35%.

12. A plurality of all respondents, 41%, support the traditional US policy of opposing Israel’s construction of settlements for its population in the West Bank. Only 26% believe Israel has the right to build this housing in the West Bank. There is a partisan divide on this question with Democrats registering 54% opposed to settlements and only 13% supporting, while with Republicans 44% are in support of Israel’s settlement construction and 30% opposed.

13. When asked whether the US should “always provide unrestricted financial and military assistance to Israel” or “should not provide unrestricted military and financial assistance to Israel if it continues to violate US policy on settlement expansion in the West Bank,” a majority of 51% favor restricting aid as opposed to only 28% who support no restrictions. Democrats favor restricting aid by a 62% to 18% margin, while Republicans are nearly evenly split at 42% supporting unrestricted aid and 39% in favor of restrictions.

14. On the issue of the legitimacy of the call by opponents of Israeli settlements in the West Bank to peacefully boycott or impose sanctions on Israel to demonstrate displeasure with this policy [BDS actions], 43% of Americans say this is a “legitimate action to protest Israel's settlement policy” against 27% who say it is not legitimate. There is a partisan split on this issue with a substantial majority of Democrats saying it is legitimate (58% vs. 16%), and Republicans, by a 40% to 32% margin, saying boycotting and sanctions are not legitimate forms of protest.
See the full poll

Social media highlights shifting perceptions of Israeli-Palestinian conflict among young Americans
Yahoo News  •  Julia Munslow  • 19 May 2021

“Understand: the U.S. is complicit,” reads an Instagram post. “The United States provides $3.8 billion in military aid to Israel every year.” Created by “So You Want to Talk About,” an Instagram account promoting progressive politics with 2.7 million followers, the post urges people to “take action” for Palestinians through petitions and donations.

It’s part of the dramatic rise in a wave of social media activism that has gravitated toward informing and organizing young people around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As the deadly violence continues to escalate in the Middle East, social media in real time has illustrated the shifting perceptions of young people.
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As Israel increasingly relies on US Evangelicals for support, younger ones are walking away; now what?
Brookings  •  26 May 2021

But a new survey commissioned by University for North Carolina at Pembroke researchers, carried out by Barna Group, has exposed what we have been finding for some time: younger evangelicals are much less supportive of Israel than older evangelicals, by a widening margin. The poll found a dramatic shift in attitudes between 2018 and 2021: support for Israel among young evangelicals dropped from 75% to 34%. This raises questions about the sustainability of the strong evangelical support for Israel that the Israeli right has cultivated for years and that proved reliable during the Trump administration.
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‘The Landscape is Shifting’: Over 35,000 rally for Palestine in DC on Memorial Day weekend

Mondoweiss  •  Nadia Ahmad, Faisal Khan  •  31 May 2021

Over 35,000 protestors converged in Washington DC this Memorial Day weekend for The National March for Palestine, the largest nationwide protest against U.S. foreign policy in decades. More than 100 buses arrived at the Lincoln Memorial from as far away as Minneapolis, Minnesota and Dallas, Texas. Organized in less than one week, the event unfurled the potential for Muslim American and Palestinian activists to lead antiwar mobilizations. The program was spearheaded by American Muslims for Palestine and the U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations. The groups urged sanctions on Israel in the wake of its recent 11 day bombing campaign in Gaza where over 66 children were killed, including 11 who were recovering from trauma of previous Israeli government attacks.
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Another poll signals fall in US support for Israel
Electronic Intifada •  Ali Abunimah  •  2 June 2021
Support for Israel continues to fall among key segments of the American population, another poll confirms.

The Harvard-Harris survey of some 1,900 registered voters was taken on 19-20 May, before a ceasefire took effect in Gaza following 11 days of intense Israeli bombardment.
Respondents were asked, “Who do you think is more responsible for the violence in the Mideast — Israel or Hamas?”
Overall, 60 percent blamed Hamas and 40 percent blamed Israel. Although more than half blame Hamas, it is remarkable that two in five say Israel is more responsible.

But when it comes to those aged 18-34, it flips around completely: 60 percent blame Israel, and just 40 percent blame Hamas. Among Black Americans, 62 percent hold Israel more responsible, as do 55 percent of those described by pollsters as Hispanic. A majority of Democrats – 52 percent – also holds Israel more responsible.
This survey corroborates the findings from a Morning Consult poll also taken during the attack on Gaza. That poll found that Israel failed to win the sympathy of most Americans during the attack. In only one demographic group – Republicans – did Israel manage to eke out a narrow majority in support.
“The propaganda is not working anymore,” Kulinski observes.
“When your grip on the narrative is slipping this much, even with endless propaganda on your side, it’s not going to be much longer until this really is like 60 percent pro-Palestinian, 40 percent pro-Israel.”
“People are seeing what’s happening. They see who the occupying power is,” Kulinski says.
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the Evangelical Christian movement and a mission of approximately 800 members of Pastor John Hagee’s Christians United for Israel (CUFI) organization, in Jerusalem on Sunday night MArch 18 2012. (Photo: Amos Ben Gershom/Flash90)

Support for Israel is even dropping among evangelical Christians
Mondoweiss  •  Michael Arria  •  3 June 2021

Two incredible polls were released recently. Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke (UNCP) commissioned the Barna Group to survey evangelical Christians about their views on Israel/Palestine. This undertaking might seem academic to some, as evangelicals have long been associated with enthusiastic and consistent support Israel. There’s been a vast amount of literature and commentary on Christian Zionism, and you can find a whole lot of it in the Mondoweiss archives. While we’ve seen notable opinion shifts on Israel among Democratic voters or young Jews, there can’t possibly be any cracks developing among evangelicals, right?

There is actually. In fact, the poll suggests support is about to drop considerably in the coming years. Only 33.6% of young evangelicals (between the ages of 18 and 29) said they support Israel. 24.3% said they support Palestine. 42.2% said they support neither side in the conflict. Compare this survey to a similar one that was carried out by UNCP professors just a few years ago, in 2018. A staggering 69% of young evangelicals said they supported Israel back then and just 5.6% said they supported the Palestinians.  25.7% didn’t take a side.
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Poll: 50% of Americans think military aid to Israel should be restricted
Mondoweiss  •  Michael Arria  •  27 August 2021

New polling from the 2021 Chicago Council Survey found that 50% of Americans want the U.S. to restrict military aid to Israel. The survey also shows that a majority of Democrats want it restricted.

The survey, which was conducted in July, shows that there’s still a sizable partisan split on the issue. 62% of Democrats think Israel should “prohibit its use in military operations against Palestinians.” 32% are opposed to such an idea. With Republicans it’s almost the exact opposite: 32% are in favor of restrictions and 61% oppose them.
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US support for Palestinian rights has shifted 'across the board', experts say
Middle East Eye  •  10 December 2021

The discourse around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has changed considerably in the United States in recent years, especially among Democrats, according to experts on the issue.

The change has been reflected both in public opinion, demonstrated by a recent poll showing most Americans opposed unrestricted aid to Israel, as well as in Congress, where a growing number of Democrats have called for supporting Palestinian rights.

Speaking during a virtual panel discussion hosted by the Middle East Institute on Thursday, Shibley Telhami, a Palestinian American professor at the University of Maryland, said the shift existed beyond just a handful of vocal members of US Congress.

"This is not progressive Democrats - I'm sorry - this is Democrats. This is much broader than people assume," Telhami said.

"I'm not talking about Congress; the shift in Congress is separate. But if you're looking at public opinion, then the shift is far bigger than people assume, it transcends this progressive-moderate divide among Democrats."
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Democrats say Biden and members of Congress lean toward Israel more than they do
Brookings  •  Shibley Telhami  •  2 August 2022

Previous polls have shown a wide gap between Democratic Party constituents, on the one hand, and the positions of elected congressional Democrats and the Biden administration, on the other, regarding U.S. policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As our new University of Maryland Critical Issues Poll shows, this includes a split on the question of boycotting Israel. But is the public aware of the gap? And does it matter for electoral politics?
See more


UMKR has collected some indicators of change in public understanding of the Palestinian struggle for justice and freedom and changes in how that subject is treated in the media and in halls of power. This is just a sampling of that shift and is not intended to be a comprehensive collection.

We welcome your suggestions for what could added here. Please contact us at: info@kairosresponse.org.


Signs of Change among the American Jewish Community

​New poll: 25% of U.S. Jews think Israel is apartheid state
Mondoweiss  •  Michael Arria  •  13 July 2021

A new poll of Jewish voters in the United States found that a quarter of them believe Israel is an apartheid state. The survey also indicates that support for Israel is declining among the group, specifically among younger Jews.
The Jewish Electorate Institute asked 800 Jewish voters about Israel and U.S. policy. Some notable findings:
    •    25% said they believed Israel is an apartheid state.
    •    34% think Israel’s treatment of Palestinians is similar to racism in the United States.
    •    22% think Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinians.
When applied strictly to younger Jewish voters, these numbers all rise. 38% of Jews under 40 think Israel’s an apartheid state, 43% think Israel’s racism is comparable to the United States’, and 33% think the country is carrying out a genocide against Palestinian people. In fact, 20% of Jewish voters under 40 said that Israel does not have a right to exist.
See more

A third of young US Jews see Israel as genocidal, poll finds
Electronic Intifada  •  Ali Abunimah  •  15 July 2021

Efforts by Israel and its lobby to equate criticism of Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people with anti- Jewish bigotry are in overdrive.
Yet a new poll indicates that this campaign has failed even with the vast majority of Jewish American voters.
The survey commissioned by the Jewish Electorate Institute, a group led by supporters of the Democratic Party, contains several eye-catching findings.
A quarter of Jewish American voters agree that Israel is an apartheid state – a number that shoots up to 38 percent among those under age 40.

Twenty-two percent of Jewish voters overall agree that Israel is committing genocide against Palestinians, a figure that rises to an astonishing 33 percent among the younger group.
Moreover, Israel’s treatment of Palestinians is similar to racism in the US, according to 34 percent of Jewish voters surveyed. That figure exceeds two in five among those aged under 40.

These findings are likely to dismay lobby group leaders who have long fretted about the erosion of support for Israel among Jewish Americans, particularly younger ones.
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Jewish Americans are at a turning point with Israel
The Guardian  •  Arielle Angel, Editor-in-chief, Jewish Currents  •  22 May 2021

I don’t feel alone any more. Though the years since 2014 have seen the growth of a small but committed Jewish anti-occupation movement, the last week and a half have brought an even larger circle of the community to a place of reckoning. We’ve seen Jewish politicians, celebrities, rabbinical students and others speak up loudly for Palestine. We’ve seen a powerful display of solidarity from Jewish Google employees, asking their company to sever ties with the IDF. At Jewish Currents, the leftwing magazine where I am now editor-in-chief, we asked for questions from readers struggling to understand the recent violence. We’ve been deluged.

These questions taken in aggregate paint a striking portrait of a community at a turning point. Though many queries aim to understand specific aspects of the recent round of violence – the circumstances surrounding the expulsions of Palestinians from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah, for instance, or the affiliations of the Jewish revelers dancing ecstatically opposite a fire on the Temple Mount – many more are simply expressions of confusion, and a newfound willingness to confront it head on.
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Statement on Israel/Palestine by Scholars of Jewish Studies and Israel Studies
Hundreds of signatories  •  22 May 2021

As scholars of Jewish Studies and Israel Studies based in various universities, departments, and disciplines, we condemn the state violence that the Israeli government and its security forces have been carrying out in Gaza; their evictions of Palestinian residents of Sheikh Jarrah and other neighborhoods of East Jerusalem; and their suppression of civilian protests in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Jewish-Arab cities, and Palestinian towns and villages in Israel. We express profound sadness at the recurrence of intercommunal violence between Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel and anger at the impunity enjoyed by most Jewish attackers. 
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Gates of Tears
Rabbinical and Cantorial Students Appeal to the Heart of the Jewish Community

As American Jews, our institutions tell stories of Israel rooted in hope for what could be, but oblivious to what is. Our tzedakah money funds a story we wish were true, but perpetuates a victimization, but supports violent suppression of human rights and enables apartheid in the Palestinian territories, and the threat of annexation.
It's far past time that we confront this head on. We can no longer shy away or claim ignorance.

What will it take for us to see that our Israel has the military and controls the borders? How many Palestinians must lose their homes, their schools, their lives, for us to understand that today, in 2021, Israel’s choices come from a place of power and that Israel’s actions constitute an intentional removal of Palestinians?
See more
See also
‘Gates of Tears’: rabbinical and cantorial students stand for solidarity with Palestinians
The Forward  •  Chelsea Mandell  •  May 2021
Find it here

Inside the Unraveling of American Zionism
NY Times  •  Marc Tracy  •  2 November 2021

The letter intimated not only that the pro-Israel consensus is fraying, which has been apparent for a while, but something else, too: That the primary cause of this fraying may not be something as straightforward as the actions of Israel’s governments or the assimilation of American Jews. Instead, a generation of Jews is confronting head-on the tension between Jewish universalist principles and the idea of Jewish particularity — that Jews possess special obligations toward one another. For years, American Jews could look upon Israel as a tiny state full of long-oppressed people with hostile neighbors, and even see themselves as underdogs in their own country, so this tension could remain largely out of view.

The letter entered this fraught terrain when it asked American Jews to view the Mideast conflict structurally, as another instance of one powerful group’s oppressing the less powerful one. This was its most profound and destabilizing argument: That Jews, after two dozen centuries of dispossession, persecution and exile have the upper hand and the responsibility to act like it. Hannah Bender, a third-year student at Hebrew Union College, put it to me this way: “All of our texts were written during a history when we were the victims.
What do we do now that we have power?”
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Israel lobby group affirms trend– 22% of younger Jews don’t want a Jewish state
Mondoweiss  •  Philip Weiss  •  26 April 2022

Nearly half of millennial American Jews don't feel very connected to Israel and 22.5 percent believe that there should be one "bi-national" state in Israel and Palestine, according to the American Jewish Committee.

The American Jewish Committee, a leading Israel lobby group, yesterday published surveys of Jewish millennials in the U.S. and in Israel, and the results affirm recent trends.

A large number of younger American Jews just don’t feel that connected to Israel — nearly 44 percent. And more than one in five millennial American Jews support the idea of one democratic state in Israel/Palestine. Only one in 20 Israeli Jews like that idea.

And campus discussions of Israel are not hotbeds of antisemitism, as the American Jewish Committee likes to claim. No, 28 percent of millennials say the Israel-critical discourse has caused them to “rethink” their commitment to Israel, and 63 percent say that climate hasn’t damaged their friendships.
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Ripples of Hope, Page Two
​• Below: Signs of change in general U.S. public opinion
On the right: Signs of change among the American Jewish community​

Ripples of Hope, Page One:
​• Commentary on the shift in media and society
• Seen on TV
Click here for Page One


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