07/26/2006 - Israel's offensive into Lebanon has not resulted in a public opinion backlash in the U.S. so far. A new Pew Research Center poll conducted July 6-19 finds little change in public sympathy for Israel in its dispute with the Palestinians. A 44%-plurality of U.S. adults say they sympathize more with Israel, while 9% sympathize with the Palestinians, figures that have remained largely unchanged in polls taken since late 2001. One in five (20%) say they sympathize with neither side, while a similar number (22%) say they don't know with whom to sympathize.
The poll was underway when Israel responded militarily to the kidnapping of soldiers by Hamas and by Hezbollah. No significant difference was found in responses to this question by those interviewed earlier in the polling period, before the escalation of hostilities when Hezbollah guerillas crossed into Israel from Lebanon, and those interviewed later.
The poll, conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, interviewed a nationwide sample of 2,003 adults by telephone.
Among political groups, Israel evokes the most sympathy among self-identified conservatives and Republicans. Among religious groups, white evangelical Christians are the most sympathetic to Israel (59%), with white Catholics slightly above the average (at 48%) and mainline Protestants and seculars significantly less sympathetic (33% and 24%, respectively). But even among those groups that express less sympathy for Israel - Democrats, mainline Protestants, seculars - few say they sympathize with the Palestinians; more say they have sympathy for neither.1
A plurality of those polled say their views on this question have been shaped more by what they have seen in the media than by any other source (35%). Religious beliefs (21%) and education (19%) are also important. But among people who sympathize with Israel, religious beliefs nearly match the media in importance (32% for religious beliefs, 35% for the media).
Read the full report Americans' Support for Israel Unchanged by Recent Hostilities; Domestic Political Distemper Continues on the Pew Research Center Web site.