Democrats now sympathize more with Palestinians than Israelis, poll finds

Dave Lawler

Axios  /  March 16, 2023

Views of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have shifted sharply among Democrats, who said they sympathized more with Palestinians than Israelis for the first time in an annual Gallup survey.

The big picture: Overall, most U.S. adults sympathize more with Israelis (54%) than Palestinians (31%), and two-thirds of Americans continue to view Israel favorably. However, views on the Middle East conflict are becoming increasingly polarized in the U.S. by party and by generation.

Flashback: In 2016, 53% of Democrats said they sympathized more with the Israelis, and 23% with the Palestinians.

  • By 2022, that gap had virtually disappeared.
  • When Gallup conducted this year’s poll from Feb. 1-23, just 38% of Democrats chose the Israelis while 49% said they sympathized more with Palestinians.
  • That shift has been driven largely by Americans born after 1980, a narrow plurality of whom are more sympathetic to Palestinians than Israelis. Americans from older generations are more than twice as likely to sympathize with the Israelis.
  • The progressive wing of the Democratic caucus in Congress has also grown increasingly vocal about the Palestinian cause.

Between the lines: Some Israeli officials and analysts have argued that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made Israel a partisan issue in Washington by aligning so closely with the Republicans.

Yes, but: A majority of Democrats (56%) continue to view Israel favorably. That’s down from 63% last year and far lower than the 82% among Republicans, but is broadly in line with previous findings for Democrats over the two decades Gallup has been conducting the survey.

State of play: There has been no movement toward a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for several years, and serious peace talks are highly unlikely any time soon, particularly with a new hard-right government in office in Israel. Tensions are running high in the occupied West Bank after an escalation in violence in recent weeks.

  • Israel’s domestic politics are also highly contentious, with President Isaac Herzog warning Wednesday that the country was on brink of civil war as Netanyahu pushes ahead with a judicial overhaul plan that critics say will undermine Israel’s democracy.

Methodology: Gallup polled 1,008 American adults across all 50 states, 75% of whom were contacted via cell phone and 25% via landline. The margin of sampling error is +/- 4% at a 95% confidence level.

Dave Lawler is a senior world reporter at Axios