Crisis in the Middle East

Crisis in the Middle East
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National Poll: American Support for Israel Strong
Majority of Americans Have Favorable Attitude
Towards Israel in Current Crisis

Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, said that after months of anxiety over the crisis and its implications for Israel, "this survey should calm the American Jewish people."

Major findings

  • The American public continues to express strong support for Israel. More than two-thirds of Americans said they are "favorable" toward Israel.

  • By a three-to-one margin, Americans are more likely to blame the Palestinians for the current violence in the Middle East.

  • By more than a 5-to-1 margin, Americans are more supportive of Israeli positions on the peace process than Palestinian positions. Nearly 75 percent of those polled believe that Israel is serious about wanting to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians. Less than 50 percent believe that the Palestinian Authority is serious about reaching a peace agreement with Israel.

  • Thirty-seven percent of Americans say the Middle East and Israel-Palestinian relations are the most important foreign policy problem for the United States. Seventy-eight percent say the U.S. should continue to play an important role in mediating the conflict.

Other findings

  • Americans believe Palestinian leaders are Inciting Violence
  • The survey found that 73 percent of Americans believe that "Palestinian leaders are inciting the violence because they havenít gotten everything that they wanted in the negotiations." Fully 58 percent of the respondents said the goal of the Palestinians and the Arab states is not peace but "the destruction of Israel."

    The poll found that public approval of Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat has plummeted. Of the respondents, 26 percent expressed the view that Arafat has had a positive impact on the peace process, while 38 percent said they believe Arafat has had a negative impact. In addition, 51 percent of Americas believe that Arafat is not committed to the peace process.

  • Lack of Public Understanding
  • The poll found the American public is misinformed about some important facts about the current conflict. For instance, 46 percent of Americans believe the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have remained, "almost completely under Israeli control" since the peace process began in 1993. In fact, 40 percent of the West Bank and virtually all of Gaza have been returned to the Palestinians.

    Still, sixty four percent of Americans said they closely follow news accounts of the conflict.

The poll of 1,400 Americans was conducted by Penn, Schoen & Berland and First International Resources between January 25 and February 17, 2001. The poll was sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the American Jewish Committee and United Jewish Communities


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