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UK: most young people think Israel should not exist, as support plummets 

June 6, 2024 at 12:36 pm

Thousands of Pro-Palestinian activists, including young people take part in a march in London, Britain on 18 May 2024 [Stringer/Anadolu via Getty Images]

A majority of young people in the UK do not believe that Israel should exist, a poll conducted by UnHerd has revealed, providing further evidence that support for the apartheid state has reached a record low. According to a recent YouGov survey, a mere 16 per cent of the British public expressed solidarity with Israel.

The UnHerd survey polled 1,012 voters about foreign policy. One of the most striking findings was that a majority of Britain’s young people do not believe Israel should exist. A staggering 54 per cent of respondents aged 18-24 have this opinion, while only 21 per cent disagreed.

This sentiment is reflected further in another question from the poll, which asked who was more to blame for Israel’s military onslaught on the 2.2 million Palestinians in Gaza. Half of the respondents blamed the Israeli government, while only a quarter held Hamas responsible. A mere 19 per cent responded with the view that all parties were equally to blame.

The remarkable change in public opinion was dismissed by UnHerd, a right-wing media outlet, as yet another sign of TikTok’s influence. Rather than recognising the genuine opposition to Israel’s military offensive in Gaza and their own complicity in what many consider to be a genocide, Western governments and mainstream media on both sides of the Atlantic have made the social media giant a convenient scapegoat, framing the shift as a Chinese conspiracy.

Social media sights such as TikTok are also popular with Israeli soldiers for displaying footage of themselves abusing Palestinians in Gaza and the occupied West Bank, and even committing war crimes. These videos have become a feature of Israel’s military campaign, exposing the radicalisation of occupation forces and Israel’s dehumanisation of Palestinians.

READ: TikTok CEO says ban on app will put 300,000 US jobs at risk

The extensive exposure of Israeli crimes on social media platforms have played a significant role in shaping the opinions of Britain’s youth, UnHerd acknowledged. An AI-generated “all eyes on Rafah” graphic is said to have been shared more than 44 million times on Instagram, and pro-Palestine content has been proliferating on TikTok.

TikTok has denied claims that the Chinese social media platform has deliberately promoted anti-Israel content, citing the existing attitudes of its predominantly young user base.

UnHerd’s polling also found that Britons aged 18-24 are far more interested in the war in Gaza than in other global conflicts, such as the Russia-Ukraine war or the tensions between the US and China. Among this age group, 38 per cent were “very interested” in Gaza, and 28 per cent were “somewhat interested”, compared with 19 per cent and 44 per cent who were “very” or “somewhat interested” in the war in Ukraine, respectively.

As the Israeli war enters its eighth month, public opinion in the UK has shifted slowly in favour of Palestine. Historic polling indicates that popular support for Israel was at its highest shortly after the 7 October attacks, at 21 per cent. However, this figure has since fallen, with the overall level of support for the Zionist state plummeting to just 16 per cent, according to YouGov figures.

The UnHerd poll’s findings underscore a significant shift in British public opinion, particularly among the younger generation, regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the very existence of the state of Israel. As the war continues and the international community seeks a resolution, these changing attitudes are likely to play an increasingly important role in shaping the UK’s foreign policy and diplomatic efforts in the region.

READ: Norway: NGO says Israel’s ‘indiscriminate’ attacks against children, women are ‘war crimes’