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Poll: British public twice as likely to blame Israel as the Palestinians for ongoing conflict

Twice as many British adults blame Israel for the failure to achieve a final settlement as they do the Palestinians, according to a new poll commissioned by Israel advocacy groups.

The survey was conducted by Populus on behalf of The Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM) and the Jewish Leadership Council, with more than 2,000 interviewed online 10-12 October.

Asked to choose from a list of words and phrases the 3 that most closely describe their view of Israel, respondents opted for: ‘Jewish’ (40%), ‘Under threat’ (32%), ‘Aggressive’ (32%), ‘Bullying’ (18%), and ‘Isolated’ (14%).

The poll also suggested a generational gap when it comes to attitudes about core questions. Asked to pick from three possible statements, support for Israel as a Jewish state – even in the context of a negotiated two-state solution – was at only 27% among 18-24 year olds, compared to 55% amongst the 55-64 age bracket.

The fact that the poll was commissioned by two of the UK’s main Israel advocacy bodies, reflected in the questions, makes these results even more noteworthy.

A report on the data in The Jewish Chronicle declared ‘Poll shows no mass hostility after Gaza’, an indication of the anxiety felt by Israel’s lobbyists since the summer’s hostilities.

Indeed, the article notes that “Israel supporters hope the figures will answer the concerns of those who believe attitudes have turned heavily against the country in the past year.” The poll would thus appear to be an expensive PR exercise performed on behalf of advocacy groups worried at the frustration in their own constituencies at Israel’s deteriorating image.

Coincidentally, the newspaper also reported this week on remarks made by Tory MP Robert Halfon, who has complained that Israel’s supporters are being “outclassed and outgunned”, and ultimately, “losing the battle.”

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