Support for Israel in Europe falls after Gaza bombings, poll finds

Rescuers gather amidst the rubble in front of Al-Shorouk Tower that was destroyed in an Israeli air strike in Gaza City (AFP)

Francesca Ebel

Middle East Eye  /  June 8, 2021

Meanwhile, US polls show public support for Israel remains strong.

Public support for Israel in Europe has hit a record low following the recent Gaza offensive, which killed hundreds of Palestinians, a new poll has found.

According to the YouGov survey, net favourability for Israel in Europe has fallen by at least 14 points since it was last tracked four months ago.

During 11 days of Israeli air strikes on the besieged Gaza Strip last month, 248 Palestinians, including 66 children, were killed and more than 1,900 were reportedly wounded, while in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem 29 were killed by Israeli forces in May.

Meanwhile, in Israel, one soldier and 12 civilians, including two children, were killed after the armed wing of the Palestinian group Hamas fired rockets on Israel.

According to the poll, British people tend to have the most negative view of Israel, with favourability falling 27 points, from -14 in February to -41 in May – the lowest rating since the poll began in 2016.

In France, favourability also decreased significantly, by 23 points. A similar trend was noted in Denmark Sweden and Germany. Germans were the most favourable toward Israel, falling from -10 to -24.

For the study, between 1000-2000 people in each country were interviewed.

For a recent Yahoo News/YouGov poll, researchers asked the question “Do you agree with the statement that Israel is “an apartheid state?” Results showed that 29 percent disagreed, while 20 percent believed Israel to be an apartheid state. The majority of respondents (51 percent) said they were unsure. 

US support remains strong

Meanwhile, US-based polls showed that support for Israel remains high.

A Harvard CPS-Harris Poll released in May found that two-thirds of Americans blame Hamas for the outbreak of violence. However, it also found that most Americans under 50 believe Israel to be responsible.

The May poll illustrated a generational divide: 60 percent of 18-34-year-olds blamed Israel, while 76 percent of over 65s blamed Hamas.

Another poll carried out by Echelon Insights, a firm aimed at Republican clients, also found that most respondents blamed Hamas for the violence. 

The poll showed that US Democrats were more likely to sympathize with Palestinians than Israelis, and that more Democrats blamed Israel for the recent outbreak in violence (20 percent) than Hamas (13 percent). Republicans, meanwhile, responded overwhelmingly in support of Israel.

Most respondents preferred the Joe Biden administration to take a neutral stance on Israel (37 percent), while 34 percent of people wanted the US to support Israel, versus 10 percent who hoped for a more critical stance.

Francesca Ebel is a writer and multimedia journalist currently based in Tunis, Tunisia