2011 was another tough year for Israel, culminating in the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) unilateral move at the United Nations, effectively putting another nail in the coffin of the moribund peace process. Nevertheless, according to two recent polls, American support for Israel is as strong as ever.
According to a poll conducted by The Israel Project at the end of October and whose findings were released this week, 68 percent of Americans characterize Israel as “one of our strongest allies”, while 61 percent reject the notion that Israel is “extremist” and 65 percent disagree with the statement that Israel is “responsible for the violence”. On the other hand, 56 percent of participants consider the Palestinians “extremist” and an “obstacle to peace”.
In addition, while 60 percent of Americans polled agree that Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel are committed to peace, 52 percent feel that the PA and its president, Mahmoud Abbas, are not committed. Moreover, 73 percent of voters support the idea of a two-state solution “with Israel as a homeland of the Jewish people”. Those polled cited women’s rights, freedom of speech and voting, freedom of religion, and the threat of terrorism as the reasons they support America’s relationship with Israel.
“This poll shows that Israel is significantly more popular among American voters than either the president or Congress,” Israel Project Founder and President Jennifer Laszlo-Mizrahi said.
Similarly, an Anti-Defamation League survey conducted two weeks prior found that 73 percent of respondents agree with the statement “Israel can be counted on as a strong, loyal U.S. ally“, and 61 percent believe “Israel is a crucial American ally”. Interestingly, both polls were conducted a few weeks before Presidents Obama and Sarkozy’s gaffe on Netanyahu at the G20 Summit.
Though often portrayed in a negative light, Americans continue to support Israel as a Jewish state — and not for religious reasons, but for its democratic character. It says much about Americans as a people, and is a positive sign for the country that continues to face threats to its existence over 60 years after its founding.