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Poll shows Americans' support for Israel in decline

Jerusalem Post
13 June 2002

WASHINGTON The number of Americans who believe the US supports Israel too much has climbed since last fall, according to a new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll.

Fifty percent of those polled said the US either supports Israel the right amount or too little. But 43% said the US gives too much support to Israel, a substantial increase from last October when the question was first asked. Then, only 29% said the US gives too much support to Israel and a larger majority 67% said support was about right or lacking.

"These figures represent a significant decline in a pro-Israeli point of view over the last eight months," an analysis put out by Gallup said.

When broken down by party affiliation, more of the Democrats polled (51%) than Republicans (36%) said US support for Israel is too great. Forty-two percent of Democrats said the support is about right or too little versus 59% of Republicans who said the support is about right or too little.

The Republican Jewish Coalition, a Washington-based group, highlighted the stronger supporter among Republicans in a press release. But Matt Brooks, the group's executive director, said the figures were not to be celebrated.

"This is not something that brings a lot of joy to me as a Republican. I'm saddened by this poll. This is not about politics. I sincerely wish the Democrats would support Israel as strongly as the Republicans do," Brooks said.

Ira Forman, director of the National Jewish Democratic Committee, also based in Washington, said the overall drop in support for Israel was disturbing and that the differences between Republicans and Democrats were small statistically.

"The poll signifies we have a lot of work, both as Republicans and as Democrats, with the American public. Statistically these aren't huge differences (between Republicans and Democrats). Much too large a percentage of the American population thinks our policy is skewed toward Israel. That's very wrong," Forman said.

Forman attributed the higher percentage of Democrats saying US policy is too pro-Israel to the large number of Hispanics and African Americans in the party, who he says "tend to be less sympathetic than other Americans to Israel." The survey, conducted June 7-8 and based on telephone interviews with 800 adults, had a margin of error of +/- 3 percentage points.

The poll also showed that a majority of Americans believe neither Prime Minister Ariel Sharon nor Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat want peace.

Fifty-seven percent said Sharon does not genuinely want peace, while only 32% said he does. An even larger percentage, 76%, said Arafat does not want peace, while only 16% said he does.

Sixty-one percent believe President George W. Bush is doing enough to try to bring peace between Israel and the Palestinians.