ADL Poll Shows Strong American Support For Israel Continues; Sharon's Plan for Gaza Withdrawal Seen as "Bold Step For Peace"
New York, NY, April 10, 2005 … A nationwide survey released today by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) revealed that Americans continue to strongly support Israel in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, view both Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas favorably and overwhelmingly see Israel's decision to unilaterally withdraw from Gaza as a "bold step toward peace."
The ADL 2005 Survey of American Attitudes Toward Israel and the Middle East of 1,600 American adults was conducted March 18 - 25 by The Marttila Communications Group.
Among the main survey findings are:
- Americans sympathize more with Israel -- 42% -- than with the Palestinians -- 13%.
- 74% of Americans believe Israel is serious about reaching a peace agreement with the Palestinians; 64% think the Palestinians are serious.
- 67% of Americans believe that the Israeli decision to unilaterally withdraw from the Gaza Strip without a peace agreement is "a bold step toward peace."
- The Israeli government's favorable rating is at its highest in over a decade at 43% positive to 26% unfavorable.
- Almost twice as many Americans (42%) have a favorable impression of Ariel Sharon as have an unfavorable (22%), up 7% since 2003; 27% view Mahmoud Abbas favorably, as compared with 9% favorability for Arafat in 2003.
"It appears clear that Israel's bold initiatives to bring security and peace to its people resonate with the American people," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, as evidenced by the overwhelming support for Prime Minister Sharon's plan to unilaterally withdraw from Gaza.
"With Arafat out of the picture and Mahmoud Abbas seeking fundamental changes for the Palestinians, a window of opportunity is open and there is a sense of optimism about progress for the peace process."
Mr. Foxman added that, "the American people remain committed to a strong US-Israel relationship because of our shared values, including commitment to freedom and democracy and efforts to defeat terrorism."
The Peace Process and the Middle East
When asked, "In the dispute between Israel and the Palestinians which side do you sympathize with more?" 42% said Israel, 13% said the Palestinians, 16% said both and 19% said neither. (view graph)
When asked, "Thinking about the Arab-Israeli conflict, are your sympathies more with Israel or the Arab countries?" 44% said Israel, 9% said Arab countries, 15% said both and 20% said neither.
When asked, "Do you think the prospects for peace have improved, worsened, or stayed the same?" 39% said improved, 9% said worsened and 45% said stayed about the same.
When asked, "How serious are the leaders of Israel about wanting to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians?" 75% said serious, (31% very serious plus 44% somewhat serious), 15% not serious. For the same question asked about Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, 64% said serious (24% very serious plus 40% somewhat serious), while 17% said not serious (view graph)
When asked how they felt about Ariel Sharon, 42% said they viewed him favorably, up from 36% in 2003 and almost twice those who viewed him unfavorably -- 22%, down from 31% -- in 2003. For the same question about Mahmoud Abbas, 27% viewed him favorably and 16% unfavorably. In 2003, 9% viewed Arafat favorably and 66% unfavorably.
Prior to reaching a long term peace agreement with Israel, Americans believe Abbas must first take on militant organizations, but appear uncertain as to his success. When asked "Do you think it is enough that Abbas reach a cease fire with organizations like Hamas, or must he dismantle these groups?" 43% said he should dismantle them and 31% a cease fire was enough. When asked, Do you think Abbas will be able to persuade organizations like Hamas to renounce violence and enter into the peace process with Israel?" 40% said no and 28% said yes.
The U.S.-Israeli Relationship
"Americans, who hold democracy dear to them, have very positive views on the U.S. - Israeli relationship," said Mr. Foxman. The survey clearly demonstrates that they understand that Israel is the only true democracy in the Middle East and a strong ally of the U.S.
"This is especially evident in the findings that show that while 68% agree that the U.S. is more likely to be targeted for a terrorist attack because of our support for Israel, a majority -- 61% -- believe that the U.S. should continue supporting Israel, "even if it means there will be a greater risk of terrorist attacks against America."
Questions asked of all 1,600 respondents have a margin of error of +/- 2.8%; questions asked to demographically proportional "split samples" of 800 each have a margin of errors of +/-3.4%.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.