ADL Poll: Americans Maintain Strong Support for Israel and Overwhelmingly Back Gaza Disengagement
Jerusalem, July 12, 2005 … A survey of American attitudes toward Israel and the Middle East released today by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) revealed that Americans continue to stand solidly behind Israel in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and overwhelmingly support Israel's disengagement from Gaza as " a bold step for peace." A nationwide telephone survey of 2,200 American adults was conducted by The Marttila Communications Group; 600 from June 19-23, and 1,600 from March 18-25.
Among the main survey findings were:
• Americans sympathize more with Israel -- 42% -- than with the Palestinians – 14%.
• With Israel's disengagement from Gaza just weeks away, an overwhelming majority -- 71% -- believe Israel's action is a "bold step for peace."
• 77% of Americans believe Israel is more serious about reaching a peace agreement with the Palestinians; 68% think the Palestinians are serious.
• A majority of Americans -- 52% -- believe Israel is currently working harder for peace than the Palestinians – 16%.
• 40% of respondents have a favorable impression of Prime Minister Sharon; 21% unfavorable.
• Even though 67% of Americans believe the U.S. is more likely to be targeted for terrorist attacks because of its support for Israel, 56% of those agree that the U.S. should continue its support of Israel despite the risk.
The survey findings were released in Jerusalem by Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, who said, "It is apparent from the survey that Israel's bold initiatives to bring security and peace to its people resonate with the American people. The consistency of the high level of support for Israel by Americans, and their improved views of the new Palestinian leadership, show them to be fair in their assessment and understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, despite ongoing propaganda campaigns and efforts to isolate and delegitimize the Jewish State."
When asked, "In the dispute between Israel and the Palestinians, which side do you sympathize with more?" 42% said Israel, in both the June and March surveys, up from 40% in 2003; 14% said the Palestinians in June, up 1% from March, as compared to 15% in 2003. [view graph]
When asked, "How serious is Israel about wanting to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians?" in June, 77% said they believed Israel was serious (26% very serious plus 51% somewhat serious), up from 74% in March and 70% in 2003.
The same question asked about how serious were the Palestinians in June, showed 68% believed they were serious (22% very serious plus 46% somewhat serious), up from 63% in March and 46% in 2003. [view graph]
"While Americans credit both Israelis and Palestinians for the improved climate, the survey shows that most believe Israel is working harder to achieve peace," Mr. Foxman said. When asked, "Who do you think is currently doing more to bring peace to the region, Israel or the Palestinians?" in June 52% said Israel, up from 48% in March; 16% said the Palestinians, up from 11% in March. [view graph]
Forty percent (40%) of the respondents said they have a favorable impression of Ariel Sharon, down from 42% in March, but up from 36% in 2003; 21% view Sharon unfavorably, down from 22% in March and 31% in 2003. When asked how they viewed Mahmoud Abbas, 22% said favorable, down from 27% in March (in 2003, 9% viewed Arafat as favorable); 23% said unfavorable, up from 16% in March ( in 2003, 66% viewed Arafat as unfavorable). [view graph]
Though Americans express greater support for Palestinian President Abbas than they ever did for Yasir Arafat, they appear uncertain as to his success in dismantling groups such as Hamas. Fifty-five percent (55%) believe Abbas will be unable to persuade organizations like Hamas to renounce terror and enter the peace process with Israel, up from 40% in March, while 18% think he can persuade them, down from 28% in March. [view graph]
"Americans, who hold democracy dear to them, have very positive views on the U.S. - Israeli relationship. 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.," Mr. Foxman stated. "This is especially evident in the findings that show that while 67% agree that the U.S. is more likely to be targeted for terrorist attack because of its support for Israel (68% in March and 73% in 2003) a majority -- 56% -- believe that the U.S. should continue supporting Israel, even if it means a greater risk of terrorist attacks against America (61% in March; 62% in 2003)." [view graph]
The March survey of 1,600 has a margin of error of +/-2.8%. For the June survey of 600 it is +/-4.0% ADL's previous Survey on American Attitudes Towards Israel and the Middle East was conducted in December 2003.
Findings from an ADL Survey of 12 European Countries
An ADL opinion survey of Europeans found almost diametrically opposed attitudes from Americans toward Israel and the conflict.
Attitudes Toward Jews in Twelve European Countries -- Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Germany, The Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and for the first time, Hungary and Poland -- was conducted for ADL by First International Resources. Fielded in Europe by Taylor Nelson Sofres, a total of 6,000 telephone interviews were conducted among the general population April 11 – May 6, 2005 -- 500 in each of the 12 countries in the native language of each of the countries. The margin of error for each country is +/-4.5% at 95% level of confidence. ADL conducted a similar poll of 10 Europeans countries in April 2004.
• Sympathy -- only 13% of the Europeans surveyed said they sympathized more with Israel, while 25% said the Palestinians.
• Serious About Peace – 56% of Europeans think Israel is serious about achieving peace up from 34% in 2004; 58% said the Palestinians, up from 38% in 2004.
• Sharon -- only 19% of Europeans hold favorable views of Sharon, while 39% find him unfavorable. In 2004, 8% viewed Sharon favorably and 59% unfavorably.
• Abbas -- 31 % find him favorable compared to 12% unfavorable.
"Though there is some improvement in European attitudes toward Israel and Prime Minster Sharon, Europeans are still light years away from the views of Americans," said Mr. Foxman. "As Israel's initiatives to achieve peace, such as the disengagement from Gaza, are recognized by European governments and the EU, we hope for more positive changes in attitudes. However, there remains a bias against Israel in the European media and among some in government that reinforce the negative attitudes held by Europeans."
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.