shows Americans' support for Israel in decline
By JANINE ZACHARIA,
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.