AP-NORC poll shows Americans divided on Israel’s response to Hamas attacks
WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans have become more likely to describe Israel as an ally that shares US interests and values since then. War with Hamas It has begun, but they are divided on whether Israel has gone too far in its response to last month’s attack, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
The poll, conducted from November 2 to 6, also reveals skepticism among Democrats toward Israel, which could pose a challenge to the president. Joe Biden As he tries to balance support for the country’s defense with his party’s changing priorities.
The result is a somewhat muddled picture that offers few easy options for the White House as public opinion watches warily. An election year is on the horizon.
“It’s very complicated,” said Carolyn Reyes, a 36-year-old Democrat in New York. “And I will not even pretend to understand the complex nature of the relationship between the United States and Israel.”
During an August poll, only 32% of Americans described Israel as an ally who shares US interests and values. But this number rose to 44% in the last poll conducted after the elections October 7 attacks by Hamas Which killed 1,400 Israelis.
However, only 36% said it was very or extremely important to provide assistance to the IDF to fight Hamas. 40% of Americans said that the Israeli military response in the Gaza Strip had exceeded the limits. The Ministry of Health in the Gaza Strip, which is run by Hamas, said that 10,000 Palestinians had died as a result of weeks of Israeli bombing and the recent ground invasion.
Reyes remembers hearing about the death toll on the news and thinking, “It seems like it’s too high, and I thought this can’t be true.”
Four thousand children have died in Gaza, according to the Ministry of Health there, and Reyes said: “This is a very long way.”
This is a more common feeling among Democrats, as 58% of them believe that the Israeli counterattack is exaggerated.
Overall, 38% of Americans said Israel’s response was correct, and only 18% said it did not go far enough.
What further complicates the situation is the Americans’ interest in balancing several foreign policy goals at the same time. About 6 in 10 thought it was very or very important for the United States to help recover hostages held by Hamas in Gaza, while nearly half said the same about preventing harm to Palestinian civilians or providing humanitarian relief in the Strip.
Nearly two-thirds of Americans (63%) disapprove of how Biden will handle the conflict between Israel and Hamas, while only a third approve. This is consistent with his general approval of his job: 60% of American adults disapprove of the way Biden is handling his job as president, while 38% approve.
Robert Byrd, a 50-year-old Democrat in Virginia, said he was happy to see Biden supporting Israel.
He said that in World War II, when the Holocaust occurred, “the United States waited too long to help the Jewish community.” “I think we have learned from our mistakes in the past. It is great to have a president who is willing to step up and do the right thing.”
Byrd said he would remain satisfied with Biden’s handling of the situation “as long as we don’t have troops on the ground there,” and that he was comfortable with Israel’s response to the Hamas attack.
“Israel is trying to maintain its independence,” he said. “They are doing what they have to do to maintain their independence.”
Such sentiments are less common among younger voters like Sean O’Hara, an 18-year-old in California. He said he is registered to vote but not with a political party.
“Funding a war like this is not really consistent with my beliefs,” he said. “I think staying out of it is the best option.”
O’Hara was concerned about supporting Israel because “they are colonizing all of Palestine, and have done so for many years.”
Although there was initially sympathy among people he knew toward Israel after the Hamas attacks, O’Hara said that sympathy changed once people “felt like there was history here.”
Israel took control of the Palestinian territories in the West Bank and Gaza Strip during the Six-Day War in 1967.
The West Bank remains under military occupation. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, but imposed a blockade when Hamas took control of the Strip, and intermittent fighting occurred for years.
Americans blame the current conflict on Hamas, which the US government considers a terrorist organization. About two-thirds of Americans (66%) said that Hamas bears great responsibility for the war, while 35% said the same about Israel.
Aaron Phillipson, a 64-year-old Republican in Florida, said he was disappointed with Biden’s approach to the war.
He added: “He is not taking the appropriate position.” He added: “It seems that he is trying to dictate his policy to Netanyahu, and Netanyahu does not seem to have any of it,” referring to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“I have never seen anti-Israel sentiment so high,” Phillipson said. “It’s terrible what’s happening now.”
About half of Americans (52%) say they are very or very concerned that the recent war between Israel and Hamas will lead to increased prejudice against Jewish people in the United States. About 4 in 10 share the same concern about anti-Muslim bias (43%).
A majority of Democrats are similarly concerned about bias against Jews (57%) and Muslims (58%). A slight majority of Republicans are concerned about anti-Jewish bias (54%), with less concern about Muslims (28%).
Phillipson said he does not want to vote for Donald Trump again, but would consider supporting the former president in a potential contest with Biden next year.
Under Biden’s leadership, “everything is falling apart now,” he said, and “this war is kind of like the icing on the cake.”
The survey of 1,239 adults was conducted November 2-6, 2023, using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak panel, designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.
This article originally appeared on apnews.com