Mondoweiss / March 17, 2023
For the first time, Democratic voters sympathize more with Palestinians than Israelis, according to an annual Gallup poll.
For the first time, Democratic voters sympathize more with Palestinians than Israelis, according to Gallup’s annual poll on U.S. attitudes toward the Middle East.
56% of Democrats view Israel favorably, but that’s down from 63% in 2022. 49% of Democrats said their sympathies lie with Palestinians, while 38% said they sympathize with Israelis.
A wide majority of Republicans remain committed to the United States closest ally, with 78% sympathizing with Israelis and just 11% siding with Palestinians. However, support for Israel among Americans has hit its lowest point in years. 54% of U.S. adults say they sympathize with Israelis, the smallest percentage since 2005. The poll notes that 2023 is the first time that Israel has not enjoyed a better than 2-to-1 advantage over Palestine in this poll.
Age was also a notable factor in the polling. A small plurality of Americans born after 1980 are more likely to sympathize with Palestinians, but Israel retains solid support among older generations.
The Gallup results line up with similar polls that have been conducted in recent years. A Brookings/University of Maryland survey from May 2022 asked Democratic voters how they view “the position of the Biden administration on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, compared to their own.” A little over half the respondents said they weren’t sure, but the vast majority of those with an opinion said Biden leaned more toward Israel than them. 26% to just 3% who said The White House was more pro-Palestine than them.
The numbers were even larger when applied to congress, with 33% of Democratic voters saying their Representatives leaned more toward Israel than them and still just 3% saying they leaned more toward Palestine.
The same group carried out a poll on Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) a few months later and found solid support for the nonviolent movement among Democratic voters who were familiar with it. 33% of those Democrats said they supported BDS, while just 10% opposed it.
Recent polling also indicates that Democratic voters would like the United States government to hold Israel accountable for its actions. A 2019 Data for Progress poll found that 65% of Democratic voters support conditioning aid to Israel, while a Center for American Progress poll from the same year had the number at 71%. A 2021 Gallup poll found that 53% of Democrats want the U.S. to put more pressure on Israel, the first time a majority of them have expressed that viewpoint. In 2018 that number was 43%.
Despite the views of their voters, most Democratic lawmakers remain staunch supporters of Israel.
Despite the views of their voters, most Democratic lawmakers remain staunch supporters of Israel. A small group of House members consistently criticizes the country publicly, but only 8 House Democrats voted against an additional Iron Dome funding in 2021. In 2019 just 16 Democrats voted against a resolution condemning the BDS movement.
An increasing number of Democratic congress members have criticized Israel’s new right-wing government and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s proposed judicial overhaul, but most have reiterated their support for Israel alongside their critiques. Earlier this month, 92 Democrats recently signed a letter calling on the Biden administration to take action against Netanyahu’s moves, but it doesn’t acknowledge the occupation and justifies the deadly raids that Israel has recently carried out.
Rep. Rashida Tlaib, the only Palestinian member of congress, shared the results of the survey on Twitter. “Fellow Americans are recognizing now more than ever that Palestinians face violence and racism from the Israeli government,” she wrote. “New polling reflects the shift we’ve seen in our communities, with Democrats increasingly supporting Palestinian human rights.”
“At a time when so many Democrats have rallied against fascism at home, many of these same people are wondering why we send billions of dollars every year to a far-right government that leading human rights organizations say is maintaining an apartheid system,” Tlaib continued.
Michael Arria is the U.S. correspondent for Mondoweiss