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US sympathy for Palestinians at unprecedented level as Israel’s image is hit

March 21, 2023 at 3:05 pm

People march during a protest organized by Chicago Coalition for Justice in Palestine [Jacek Boczarski/Anadolu Agency]

For the first time in US history, sympathy for Palestinians has overtaken sympathy for Israelis among Democrats, according to the latest Gallup poll. Nearly half of Democrats — 49 per cent — have greater sympathy for Palestinians compared with only 38 per cent for Israel.

The attitudes reflect an 11-percentage point increase over the past year in Democrats’ sympathy with the Palestinians and a 29-percentage point increase for Palestine over the decade. With Israel the trend is the complete opposite. Democrats’ sympathy for Israel hovered between 50 and 60 percentage points for decades. The downward trend began in 2014 when Israel launched one of its bloodiest wars on Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Sympathy towards the Palestinians is also at a new high among political independents, up six points to 32 per cent. Republicans’ views are unchanged, with nearly eight in 10 — 78 per cent — continuing to sympathise more with the Israelis, while 11 per cent side with the Palestinians.

READ: US Democrat support for Palestine higher as Israeli ‘self-defence’ narrative collapses

As a result of this year’s partisan shifts, sympathy for the Palestinians among US adults is at a new high of 31 per cent, while the proportion not favouring a side is at a new low of 15 per cent. Although 54 per cent of Americans sympathise more with the Israelis, the figure is the lowest since 2005.

The most consequential changes in public opinion on this question have occurred in the past five years, as support for the Palestinians has gone up while support for Israel as well as ambivalence about Israel’s occupation of Palestine have each declined.

The shift in unprecedented favourable Democrat attitudes towards Palestinians coincides with near global consensus amongst major human right groups that Israel imposes a system of apartheid on the Palestinians. Apartheid is a crime akin to a crime against humanity.