November 19th, 2012
10:56 AM ET
2 years ago

CNN Poll: 57% of Americans say Israeli attacks in Gaza are justified

Washington (CNN) – A majority of Americans say that Israel's current military strikes against Gaza are justified, according to a new national survey.

A CNN/ORC International poll released Monday indicates that 57% of the public says Israel is justified in taking military action in Gaza against Hamas, with one in four saying the attacks are unjustified.

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The fighting began last week with rocket attacks into Israel from Gaza, to which Israel responded with an aerial offensive. Palestinian emergency services said Monday that nearly 100 people have been killed in Gaza, with around 750 injured. The Israel Defense Forces said three people in Israel have been killed, with nearly 70 injured.

The fighting has raised fears of a widening conflict, and the possibility of a repeat of Israel's 2008 invasion of Gaza following similar rocket attacks by Hamas into Israel.

"Although most Americans think the Israeli actions are justified, there are key segments of the public who don't necessarily feel that way," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Only four in ten Democrats think the Israeli actions in Gaza are justified, compared to 74% of Republicans and 59% of independents. Support for Israel's military action is 13 points higher among men than among women, and 15 points higher among older Americans than among younger Americans."

According to the survey, nearly six in ten say their sympathies are with the Israelis, with 13% saying they side more with the Palestinians and 11% saying their sympathies are with neither side in the conflict.

"That's nothing new," added Holland. "The number of Americans who sympathize more with the Palestinians has never been higher than 18% since the question was first asked in 1988. Sympathies for Israel have sometimes dipped below 50%, but have been over that mark for the past eight years."

The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International from November 16-18, with 1,023 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report

soundoff (203 Responses)
  1. GEN. BETRAYUS..WHOOPS....PETREUS

    Blah Blah Blah! I understand that Israel has the right to defend itself, but at what costs? Innocence is being killed in these airstrikes. Not to mention CHILDREN!!! All that matters to me is that the U.S. keeps their nose out of it.

    November 19, 2012 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  2. Jerry Lemieux

    As has been pointed out, the world is so interested in the Palestine / Israel conflict; one in which the more civilized side is attempting to minimize civilian causalities, that the horror that is Syria takes a back seat. Less then 50 total causalities versus over 30,000. The Islamic world isn't concerned about the deaths, they simply know the media will dutifully report the PR that makes Israel look like the bad guys.

    November 19, 2012 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  3. Andrian Taylor

    Since Ted Turner left CNN, the news product has become pitiful. If you would have told me back in the 80s that at the turn of the century I would be getting my international news from an Arab station called Al Jazeera and a Russian station called "RT America", I would have said you were crazy... guess what?

    November 19, 2012 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  4. Tim C

    Of course, one of the things the AIPAC bought-and-paid-for media doesn't report is that Hamas escalated rocket fire after Israel assassinated one of their leaders. And it's real easy to take Israel's side when the media paints Palestine as a monster, and Israel as a martyr. Of course, the media's depiction is dead wrong, because they're not really obligated to show Palestian's holding their dead babies, murdered by Israel.

    November 19, 2012 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  5. Shawn

    Hopefully this isn't surprising to anyone. We as American typically get our news about world events thru our major media outlets (Cable News, big-name newspapers, or talk radio). How often do you ever hear about Israel being criticized for doing anything wrong? Rarely ever. And if you do, the person or group being critical are often labled as anti-semetic or against Israel, which is far from the truth. On the flip side, most of the enemies of Israel are often labled as "terrorist groups" or "extremist." So any news you hear about the opponents of Israel are 99.9% of the time going to be negative. So the picture has already been painted and the deck has already been stacked. Even Netanyahu himself came out and said (on video), "I'm not worried about gaining the support of the American people because they are easily moved." Now if you can't out 2 and 2 togther, I really don't know what to say about us as a nation except for what most people around the world are already saying. To sum it up...American ignorance. Even one of our own, Ron Paul, exposed this at the Republican presidential debate last year. And see you the reaction he received.

    November 19, 2012 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  6. Rezat

    Really irrisponsible for members of news media to print something like this. Purely feeding extrimism and
    nothing else. Great food for Taliban and Alqaeid marketing machine to say to ordinary people... See? America and Israel are the same.

    November 19, 2012 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  7. Elizabeth

    I'm sure it has nothing to do with the way the media covers this conflict and Americans' bias against Muslims or Arabs in general.

    November 19, 2012 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  8. Skeptic

    Israel should annex all of Palestine, people and land.

    November 19, 2012 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  9. Ben

    Israel took comfort in a 70% "approval" rating when it was backing Romney. That turned out to not be so meaningful either. I suspect the validity of these polls since they're conducted with a specific political purpose. Americans voted decisively that they didn't want the candidate who made Israel an election issue. If I'm a politician, that's what I'm thinking of when I read these polls.

    November 19, 2012 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  10. Howard

    If Israel opened their borders to the Palestinians, it would be an act of suicide.

    November 19, 2012 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  11. Meti

    How can you justify killings of chlidren and babies? Are you out of your minds?

    November 19, 2012 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  12. Feeling vs. Knowing

    I wonder how many people who participated in that poll actually know anything about Israel/Gaza or could even identify it on a map. My guess would be about a quarter.

    November 19, 2012 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  13. mary bangs

    So majority of republicans are for Israel and majority of democrats are against. Not surprising since democrats are for a president who funds Muslims.

    November 19, 2012 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  14. Jack in New York

    What CNN didn't tell you was that the people who took part in this poll are israeli americans.

    Noone who is sane would agree with what is going on there. Collectively punishing the people for what Hamas is doing????? NO WAY!!!!

    November 19, 2012 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  15. Bob

    I don't like sticking my nose in other country's affairs. If Isreal wipes another country off of the map for killing their children in the streets then let them do what ever it takes to stop the stupidity.

    Like wise, other countries need to stay out of US affairs, no one understands US affairs unless you live here and understand the culture and heritage.

    November 19, 2012 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  16. v_mag

    Way I see it - It is not clear at all. You know, surely, that Israel was established by the U.S. and other western countries allowing a terrorist movement of Jews to take over Palestine. The Palestinian people have been fighting to regain their homeland, or at least to gain full civil and religious rights.

    When I was a kid, my brother used to blame me for fights by saying, "It all started when he hit me back." That's Israel all over. They play the victim, but ultimately, they are the oppressors. Look into the history of this "country" Israel and how they have mired the U.S. in their dirty little wars.

    As for Syria, are you asking that we jump into another war? Weren't George W.'s budget busters good enough for you? Africa is full of wars all the time. Maybe we should expand our assaults to that continent?

    November 19, 2012 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  17. raphaelsalgado488

    Regardless if you're naive or misinformed about it, people need to get an objective view of the problem in the Middle East, with historical facts. Watch, learn, and share: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nEzvhvOcWEs

    November 19, 2012 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  18. Barbara-Northern Michigan

    It is certainly difficult to empathize with the Muslims anymore.
    Although they certainly have legimitate grievances, I'm sure, their style and tactics are not conduscive to the modern world. They appear so backward and fanatical. Those cultural norms will never be accepted in the human family of mankind.
    Perhaps Israel is trying to blast them into self-examination...how sad that they have to do that after everything they went through in the Holocaust.
    Muslims, please teach your kids to be more intelligent and peaceful.
    Jews, please give them the dignities they may be denied to cause this growing nightmare.
    PEACE_PEACE_PEACE

    November 19, 2012 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  19. Laura

    As long as women and children dying because of stubborn, arrogant and self-centered politics on both sides, there is nothing to sympathize with… Victims of this meaningless massacre deserve sympathy…The conflict can be resolved only if occupation will end, illegal settlements will be stopped and two state solutions would be implemented. Without that we will witness much worse scenarios in future than we are seeing now…

    November 19, 2012 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  20. Alicia

    And almost 100% of these comments so far reveal that folks actually don't think Israel is justified. Definitely media bias and propaganda going on here. A majority of people who just read titles of articles form their opinion based on just that. People need to look further into things.

    November 19, 2012 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  21. Open Eyes

    Of course CNN would report that the majority of Americans support Israel as our media is under their control.

    November 19, 2012 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  22. Sick of War

    Most Americans couldn't point to Israel or Gaza on a map let alone have a real understanding of the issues on both sides of the aisle. Moreover, the one sided reporting of the media in this country dictates what Americans will say. Is Hamas a terrorist organization? Perhaps, but here's a suggestion America, read books and international news sites that deliver reports about all sides of the conflict, learn that Israel is occupying land that does not belong to it, understand that Palestinians are real people just like you and me, understand that many Israelies support a Palestinian state, travel to the middle east to a better understanding of what that region and the people (both Jewish and Muslim) are all about. THEN come to me with your opinions.

    November 19, 2012 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  23. Is not black'n'white

    Way I see it; you are justifying Israel's position, and while I agree with your observation that no one would stand still if someone is firing missiles at them, is not that simple; Israel was pushed in Palestinians' land 60 years ago, against Palestians' will, they were first invaded, so would you then justify their acts? I won't. And like Tony said, this is a 3k years old conflict; I do not support either side, they should start looking for what they have in common (a lot!); this is like the Irelands fighting among them, but how are they going to end the conflict, I have no clue... but we can't paint it back and white, that's just wrong... The US is military supporting Israel because of political interest, not because they need the help of the US, that is also wrong..

    November 19, 2012 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  24. JEff

    Wow, Reg – Israel refused to negotiate ? Really ? When they offered 90 % of what the Pals wanted and Arafat turned it down ?
    Wow, Reg – You fault ISrael for closing the border ? Really ? Funny how you obviously dont have a clue about the geography of the area – here's a clue. Gaza also borders EGYPT. Egypt also blockades Gaza...now, the question is, WHY do you think Egypt DOES that ? and the better question is, Where is your criticism of Egypt ?

    November 19, 2012 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  25. Mike

    Child casualties, although cruel, are fine. Considering that their children watch cartoons glorifying the killing and death of Israelies and Israel. Hamas is just breeding more terrorists by teaching their children to hate and kill.

    Seems to be the mantra for uneducated muslims. So keep on killing. Because the Arabs on the street are not a responsible partner for humanity anyway.

    We are all sick of you.

    November 19, 2012 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
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