Despite political differences, bipartisan American support for Israel remains strong and is growing, according to a study written by Dina Smeltz, a senior fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, which was published Monday in The Washington Post.
Survey trends show Americans’ favorable views of Israel have not been much affected by these recent events. Some partisan differences exist, but those partisan divides have been there for some time.
Overall, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ surveys find that Americans tend to view Israel favorably (giving Israel an average of 59 out of a possible 100 favorability rating), on par with their feelings toward France (61 out of 100). There is a partisan hue to American feelings, as the figure below shows.
But in fact, favorable views of Israel actually rose across the political spectrum when last asked this question in 2014.
A paper cited and co-written by Smeltz, which was also released Monday, provided more details supporting her observation:
But if the past is any indication of the future of the US-Israel relationship, public opinion trends suggest the relationship will continue to be a warm one. Results from the 2014 Chicago Council Survey show that favorable feelings toward Israel have increased among supporters from both parties in recent years. Republicans’ favorable views of Israel have increased 12 percentage points since a low point in 1998. A majority of Democrats also continue to feel favorably toward Israel, up from a low point of 50 percent in 2002. Gallup surveys conducted in 2014 and 2015 corroborate these trends. In both years, seven in ten Americans expressed favorable views of Israel, suggesting that events over the last year did not affect American support for Israel.
In her Post study, Smeltz further noted that a majority of Americans would support U.S. military intervention to defend Israel if it was attacked by an enemy, a figure that “is currently at the highest level recorded among […] Republicans, Democrats and Independents.”
Smeltz concluded by observing:
Regarding partisanship among the public in support for Israel, there are some differences between Democrats and Republicans on the depth of their support. But when placed into context over time, these differences are neither revelatory nor unique to the tenures of Netanyahu or Obama.
A poll released this past February found that a plurality of Americans were in favor of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to address Congress on the dangers presented by a nuclear Iran. Last year, a poll revealed that American voters overwhelmingly held the Palestinian Authority responsible for a breakdown in peace talks, with over two-thirds of respondents agreeing that Jerusalem couldn’t be expected to negotiate with a unity government that includes the designated terror group Hamas.
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