Most Americans in new poll say US government should publicly support Israel

Most Americans believe the U.S. government should publicly express support for Israel in its war against the Palestinian militant group Hamas, a new poll found.

The NPR-PBS News Hour-Marist poll found that nearly two in three Americans — or roughly 65 percent — say the government should publicly support Israel. About 23 percent said the U.S. should say or do nothing related to the conflict, and 8 percent say the U.S. should publicly criticize Israel.

Partisanship did not seem to play much of a role in the results, either, according to the poll. Around 77 percent of Republicans, 69 percent of Democrats and 54 percent of independents said they believe the U.S. should show public support for Israel amid the war.

“Israel is clearly winning in the court of public opinion,” Lee M. Miringoff, director of Maris College Institute for Public Opinion said in a statement.

More than half of Americans also think U.S. support for Israel makes the Middle East safer. This comes as a majority of respondents said they were “concerned” or “very concerned” that the conflict between Israel and Hamas could lead to a larger conflict in the Middle East, according to the poll.

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Forty-four percent of those surveyed think the Israel Defense Force’s (IDF) response to Saturday’s surprise attacks was appropriate. About a quarter of respondents, or roughly 26 percent, believe the response was “too much” and 27 percent say it has been “too little,” the survey found.

Republicans are three times more likely (39 percent) than Democrats (13 percent) to say the Israeli military response wasn’t strong enough, the survey results show.

The poll also found that Democrats and Republicans are largely split along party lines in opinions on President Biden’s response to the violence.

Overall, 52 percent of respondents don’t approve of Biden’s response — 19 percent of them being Democrats and 80 percent being Republicans. Less than half of those surveyed said they do approve of how Biden is handling the war, including 77 percent of Democrats and 16 percent of Republicans.

The pollsters acknowledged that while only 16 percent of Republicans think Biden is doing a good job handling the war, only 6 percent of the GOP think he is doing a good job as president overall.

“Digging down, even though few Republicans give Biden high marks, his approach to the war is viewed more favorably by the GOP than his overall job performance,” Lee’s statement said. “The opposite is the case for Democrats who view Biden’s job performance more positively than his handling of the war.”

Despite the differences, 70 percent of Americans say they are following the war closely.   

They survey, conducted on Oct. 11 with a sample of 1,313 respondents, has a margin of error of 3.8 percentage points.

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