Poll: Israel failed to win support of US voters during Gaza massacre

A Palestinian man sells balloons near the ruins of buildings damaged by Israeli airstrikes (Ashraf Amra - APA Images)

Ali Abunimah

The Electronic Intifada  /  May 23, 2021

Israel failed to win the sympathy of most Americans during its massive attack on Gaza , a new survey finds.

In only one demographic group – Republicans – did Israel manage to eke out a narrow majority in support, according to a Morning Consult poll conducted for Politico from 14 to 17 May.

Among Democrats and young voters, more people stood with Palestinians than with Israelis.

The survey of almost 2,000 registered voters was taken amidst Israel’s savage bombing campaign in Gaza that began on 10 May and ended with a ceasefire in the early hours of Friday.

Overall, 28 percent of voters surveyed were more sympathetic to Israelis, compared with 11 percent who were more sympathetic to the Palestinians.

But while US voters were more likely to side with Israelis than Palestinians, they were even more likely (29 percent) to sympathize with both.

Over 11 days, at least 230 Palestinians, including more than 60 children, were killed by Israeli forces and 2,000 were injured.

Twelve people were killed in Israel.

Israel’s bombing of civilian homes, businesses, media agencies, health facilities and other infrastructure caused massive damage in Gaza and displaced tens of thousands of people.

Israel killed 27 Palestinians in the West Bank and injured 6,000 in the same period.

Dwindling support among Democrats

Remarkably, the only group where Israelis found majority sympathy was among Republican voters – by the barest margin of 51 percent.

In the 18-34 age group, just 15 percent favored Israelis, while 18 percent sympathized more with the Palestinians. Twenty-nine percent said they stood with “both.”

A mere 12 percent of Democratic voters said their sympathy lay more with Israelis, while 18 percent stood with the Palestinians. More than a third of Democrats – 36 percent – opted for “both.”

The escalation of Israeli violence against Gaza followed rocket fire by Palestinian resistance groups in response to Israel’s attacks on worshippers at the al-Aqsa mosque compound and intensified ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem.

The poll will undoubtedly unnerve Israel and its lobby groups, which launched their usual propaganda blitz demonizing Palestinians in order to justify the carnage as a “response” to “terror.”

Yet it confirms a long-term trend: the steady erosion of support for Israel among significant groups of Americans.

Failed strategies

In recent years, Israel and its lobby have invested huge resources in trying to appeal to younger and more left-leaning demographic groups – apparently without success.

“Support for Israel is driven largely by Republicans and older voters, while Democrats and younger voters are more likely to back the Palestinian cause in the decades-long Middle Eastern conflict,” Morning Consult observes.

A lot of Israeli propaganda aims at marketing Israel as “progressive” – particularly for its supposed support of LGBTQ rights and environmental issues.

These pink-washing and greenwashing strategies have been a dismal failure.

Israel and its army of propagandists are finding again and again that there is just no way to make a state that perpetrates vengeful massacres and apartheid against Palestinians seem hip and cool.

Ali Abunimah is co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine (Haymarket Books)