Majority of Democrats say US should pressure Israel

Majority of Democrats say US should pressure Israel, not Palestine: poll
3 min read
26 March, 2021
According to a Gallup survey, which was conducted in February, a majority of US Democrats say that their country should pressure Israel rather than Palestine in the Middle East.
Palestinians protest in the US [Anadolu]
WASHINGTON D.C. (The New Arab)A recent Gallup poll has found that a majority of Democrat respondents believe the United States should put more pressure on Israel than on Palestine, rather than the other way around – a first in such a poll.

The annual survey of Americans’ views of the Israel-Palestine conflict was released last week, and generally found a steady decline in sympathy for Israel with a steady increase in sympathy for the Palestinians. Though general sympathies remained with Israelis, there was a clear partisan divide. Democrats are slightly more inclined than they previously were to believe the US should pressure Israel.

According to the survey, which was conducted in February, most of the increase since 2018 in wanting the US to put more pressure on Israel comes from Democrats. The 53 percent opting for more pressure on the Israelis is up from 43 percent in 2018. This is up from less than 40 percent in the previous ten years, a significant change in Democrats' perspective.

“I’m not surprised by the poll at all,” said Ronald Stockton, a professor of political science at the University of Michigan-Dearborn.

He noted that over the past couple of decades the Israeli government has increasingly been appealing to the right wing of the US political spectrum. Stockton also pointed out the increasing diversity in the US population, particularly among Democratic voters. 

The country is becoming a lot more diverse. People who aren’t white are thinking: if I were there they’d be treating me that way.

“The country is becoming a lot more diverse. People who aren’t white are thinking: if I were there they’d be treating me that way,” said Stockton.

He was skeptical, however, about how much a shifting American public opinion can change US foreign policy. While aid to Palestinians has resumed under US President Joe Biden, he doesn’t expect a change regarding Israeli settlement activity.

Similarly, Waleed Mahdi, assistant professor of US-Arab Cultural Politics at the University of Oklahoma, sees the survey as a significant development, though he is hesitant to read too much into it. For now, he considers it as showing a growing awareness of the Palestinian issue among a younger generation.

“It reflects growing awareness in the US about Palestinian rights and at same time a dissatisfaction with how the US has dealt with the issue,” said Mahdi.

Indeed, when all respondents to the survey are taken together, the vast majority still solidly support Israel.

The bottom line, according to Gallup, is that “Israel enjoys an enormous advantage over the Palestinian Authority in Americans' favorable ratings toward the two groups. Against that backdrop, Americans are also inclined to say they sympathize more with the Israelis than the Palestinians in the Mideast conflict.”

Brooke Anderson is The New Arab's correspondent in Washington D.C., covering US and international politics, business and culture.

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