January 24th, 2009
02:05 PM ET
7 years ago

Majority of Americans support Israel during crisis, says poll

An Israeli soldier sits on his armored personnel carrier Tuesday, after pulling out of Gaza.

An Israeli soldier sits on his armored personnel carrier Tuesday, after pulling out of Gaza.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - A new national poll suggests that six in ten Americans sympathize more with the Israelis than the Palestinians in the recent fighting in Gaza, and most believe that Israel's initial decision to take military action against Hamas was justified.

Sixty percent of those questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Saturday say they sympathize with Israelis, with 17 percent backing the Palestinians.

The poll was conducted while Israel was still taking military action in Gaza, so it does not reflect how Americans feel about the recent cease-fire in Gaza. But 63 percent of those questioned do think that Israel's initial military action was justified, with three in ten saying it was not justified.

Earlier: Rival factions trade accusations of spying, violence in Gaza

"Republicans are most likely to see Israel's military action as justified. Three-quarters of GOP respondents felt that way," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. "But even among Democrats, 52 percent felt Israel was justified compared to 40 percent who felt the action in Gaza was unjustified."

Forty-three percent think the amount of military force used by Israel was about right, with 38 percent saying it was too much and 14 percent feeling it was too little.

Israel announced Wednesday that it completed the withdrawal of its troops from Gaza after a three-week military campaign against Hamas, which rules the territory. Israel said it had achieved its goals, which were to halt the firing of rockets into southern Israel from Gaza.

Earlier: Obama: U.S. will actively seek Middle East peace

But Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that's controlled the territory since 2007, also declared victory. More than 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed in the fighting, according to authorities on both sides, since the conflict began in late December.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted January 12-15, with 1,245 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.


Filed under: Middle East
soundoff (98 Responses)
  1. KM

    More Americans support Israel simply because of the media bias toward Israel. There was a suicide bomber from the West Bank who blew herself and 12 innocent people in a cafe in Israel. Our press didn't run the background story about the woman. About a month prior Israeli military came to her home in search of weapons, found none and trashed the home. In front of her they killed her husband and brother and left her with no family. This is no reason for the people in the cafe to be killed, however, can any of us say that after living through this, becoming a suicide bomber would never enter our minds? All the people in the West Bank or Gaza were under house arrest (6 or 7 years ago) for weeks. It was decided that one day and one day only the children would be allowed to go to school and take exams to end their aborted term. On that one day Israeli forces Shot at a school bus. Our media reported it as the military "mistakingly fired upon" a school bus. MISTAKE?!?!?!?!?!?
    I am an American of German decent. My ties to the Middle East are next to none. I read foreign press as well as US press. that's how I get my empathy for the Palestinian people.

    January 24, 2009 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  2. Obama 2.0

    I support peace and a two state solution. The crisis in the middle east is what fuels AlQeda, Iran and the extremist Muslim. By solving this problem we remove the air out of Jihad. This is the very reason why those at the extremes do not want an everlasting peace. But we will get there, and we will do so in record time.

    January 24, 2009 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  3. Will-South Dakota

    Israel has become way to aggresive and destructive in this. Is Israel going to rebuild the Gaza strip and what they destroyed or ask the US and other countries to rebuild and spend the billions it will take? I doubt Israel will left a finger to do anything humanitarian for those they bombed and displaced.

    January 24, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  4. Mac Qurashi

    It is no wonder that majority of Americans supported Israel's invasion of Gaza. We, in the US, are insulated from the real news from the "territories". We only hear and see what the Israelis want us to hear and see. One has to read the news from rest of the world, including the counties that are allies, to see the destruction of life and property for the sake of elections in Israel and to undermine President Obama's declared intentions to reach out to the "other side".

    January 24, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  5. Todd Boyle

    Your poll question asked whether military force was "justified". That invokes judgment and punishment of the Palestinians. You should have asked, "Do Palestinian Arabs have valid title to the lands taken from them by the Jews?" The whole entire framing is anyways flawed. The more productive line of inquiry is, "Do you think the bombing and shelling of Gaza will reduce, or increase, militancy among Palestinian Arabs? (Will it teach them a lesson).
    or,"Will this achhieve the objective of stopping the rockets from Gaza?" "Do you think there is a connection between Israel's treatment of Palestinians and Islamist militancy in other countries?", "Do you think the bombing killed sufficient numbers of Hamas to enable rival factions Fatah to regain control over Gaza? Would Fatah control over Gaza achieve stability? If Fatah suppresses violence against Israel, will the Israelis stop their expansion, settlements, and walls? Do you think the Palestinians will ever be given their stolen lands back, or that Israel will ever return to the 1967 borders let alone, the boundaries of the 1948 Al-Nakbah state?

    January 24, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  6. Southerner

    Of course Americans support Israel. Their actions are defensive and their attacks targeted at the terrorists who are bombarding Israel with unguided terror rockets.

    If the Palestinians want the world to take their side, they need to stop engaging in terrorism. Stop intentionally attacking civilian targets. Stop blowing up innocents in public places, and lastly stop using human shields.

    January 24, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  7. Pat

    If Wolf was Palestinian, would the polls say something different?

    How about asking how many people think it is justified to close all the borders and trap these people in a gated community? How many say it is all right for people to wait in check points that take 2 and 3 hours to go to work or get food?

    How many people know that Palestine has a 70% unemployment rate?

    Now ask the people you are polling if they think that is justified BEFORE Israel started bombing Gaza?

    You didn't ask these questions because people didn't hear about it IF they only used CNN for their news source.

    When is CNN going back to being a real news source?

    January 24, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  8. Mike, Syracuse NY

    Too bad they didn't ask a follow-up question to those supporting Hamas: Do you believe it's OK for the Arabs to destroy Israel?

    January 24, 2009 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  9. John Starnes Tampa Florida

    Israel has twice turned down the Saudi Peace Accord which afforded them full recognition by all Arab nations.....it's "conditons" were simple.....Israel just abide by Resolution 242, which it has defied since 1967 with a reliable U.S. veto each time. What does 242 say? Simple.....give back the land that Israel took in its PRE-EMPTIVE ATTACK on five neighbors in 1967. Had they complied, the Palestinian people would have had a homeland vs. an open air prison for 40 years. For 18 months, Israel had choked off Gaza with a blockade of food, water, fuel, medicine and supplies to punish the people for DEMOCRATICALLY electing Hamas. The UN, UNICEF, Jimmy Carter and others all pointed out this blockade was killing people there and causing incredible suffering......so are the Palestinians supposed to sit back and watch their loved ones suffer and die? Israel is THE consummate rogue nation in constant defiance of the UN and violation of the Geneva Conventions, justly earning for themselves the loathing of much of the world. And I am ashamed that I was a knee jerk supporter of Israel until the spring of 2001. Prior, I'd seen Israel as a safe homeland for Jewish people after the horrors of WWII. But they have devolved into an expansionist, nationalist Zionist regime hell bent on taking the best farmlands (Shebba Farms for example) and lands from peoples who've lived there for centuries. Israel's actions in Lebanon and now Gaza are deeply immoral and criminal, backed and funded by the U.S. I dearly hope that Obama serves them a few big slices of humble pie. With Orthodox Jews saying all the above, Israel can no longer hide behind the cheap shot charge of "anti-Semiticism" when confronted with their barbaric behaviors.

    January 24, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  10. Henry Miller, Cary, NC

    Here's a question, people:

    If, one afternoon, a bunch of armed cops showed up at the door of your house and told you that, effective immediately, it was no longer your house but was being given to total strangers. Those strangers would tolerate you living in what until then had been your own basement or, if you didn't like that, you would be allowed to pitch a tent in what until then had been your own back yard.

    Wouldn't that make you angry?

    That's exactly what happened sixty years ago when the United Nations, with the complete support of the United States, stole Palestine from the Palestinians and gave it to the Jews to form Israel.

    This is the main reason the Muslim world hates us so much. We were a party to the theft of Palestine and we remain a party to the oppression of Palestine by Israel.

    The Palestinians have every right to be angry. They have every right to use force to reclaim their land, especially since they're being incessantly victimised by Israel.

    There won't be peace in the mid-east until the U.S., and the world, recognise that Palestine had, and has, a right to exist. It's Israel that's an artificial political creation occupying stolen land.

    January 24, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  11. Blake

    It's for the same reason American mediation in the Middle East has never worked. People in the region have come to the realization that all American administration have come and gone with the same policies. Americas unwavering support puts America out of contention as a fair and balance mediator. You can't be a mediator while arming and funding Israeli jets. Not too long ago Condi Rice was negotiating an to the end Israeli bombing of south Lebanon while delivering to Israel lethal weapons. Go figure...

    January 24, 2009 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  12. Texas Teacher

    How is it that these Palestinians cannot see that these terrorists are their own worse enemies? Even if they have enlisted the weary youths of their country...THEY ARE THE WORST ENEMIES OF THE COMMON PEOPLE! Without their terrorism over fanatic religious beliefs or whatever it is that drives them... THEY are the ones killing their own people! If they would rise up and kick these evil black hearted demons OUT of their countries, the whole world would come to help them.

    I am stunned that Israel has been so patient with these thugs! If we were being attacked by terrorist from over the border of Canada or Mexico, we WOULD have blown them off the face of the earth! And we would not attack Central America either! Nor would Pres. Obama read goat books to school children either!

    January 24, 2009 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  13. Diane Dagenais Turbide

    It really shows how much real dialogue is needed to take place to reduce violence when we are now accepting it as it is.

    January 24, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  14. Loved

    CNN who you fooling with? we know the truth, the truth is other way round, CNN is pro isreal,also jews owns cnn.

    Thanks,

    love.

    January 24, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  15. platipus

    nauseating! i hope people think it twice before buying them, thus violating the rights of two young citizens.

    January 24, 2009 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  16. benvictor

    Being reported by online news site that a terrorist is being released in New York prison system after spending only one-half prison sentence. This guy was involved in PLO terrorist activity in 70s and 80s. Not good that closure of GITMO and release of this guy coincide. Are we nuts.

    January 24, 2009 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  17. Byron Lott

    Israel should permanently occupy a 10 mile vertical strip of Gaza that includes the tunnels with Egypt and thus cutoff the illegal flow of rockets – also Israel should launch 5 or so rockets back at Gaza for every rocket launched at Israel. What have the Arab States ever given the world in technology or medicine as compared with advancements that Israel and the Jewish people have contributed?

    January 24, 2009 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  18. Bill

    I wonder how many of these people who disapproved of what Isreal did would feel and want done if it was their home town that was being bombarded by rockets on a daily basis and they had to live underground in their basements? It sure is easy to disapprove of someone when you are sitting in the safety of your home watching it on TV.

    January 24, 2009 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  19. John Starnes Tampa Florida

    Israel has twice turned out the Saudi Peace Accord which afforded them full recognition by all Arab nations..it's "conditions" were simple.....Israel just abide by Resolution 242, which it has defied since 1967 with a reliable U.S. veto each time. What does 242 say? Simple.....give back the land that Israel took in its PRE-EMPTIVE ATTACK on five neighbors in 1967. Had they complied, the Palestinian people would have had a homeland vs. an open air prison for 40 years. For 18 months, Israel had choked off Gaza with a blockade of food, water, fuel, medicine and supplies to punish the people for DEMOCRATICALLY electing Hamas. The UN, UNICEF, Jimmy Carter and others all pointed out this blockade was killing people there and causing incredible suffering......so are the Palestinians supposed to sit back and watch their loved ones suffer and die? Israel is THE consummate rogue nation in constant defiance of the UN and violation of the Geneva Conventions, justly earning for themselves the loathing of much of the world. And I am ashamed that I was a knee jerk supporter of Israel until the spring of 2001. Prior, I'd seen Israel as a safe homeland for Jewish people after the horrors of WWII. But they have devolved into an expansionist, nationalist Zionist regime hell bent on taking the best farmlands (Shebba Farms for example) and lands from peoples who've lived there for centuries. Israel's actions in Lebanon and now Gaza are deeply immoral and criminal, backed and funded by the U.S. I dearly hope that Obama serves them a few big slices of humble pie. With Orthodox Jews saying all the above, Israel can no longer hide behind the cheap shot charge of "anti-Semiticism" when confronted with their barbaric behaviors.

    January 24, 2009 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  20. Sue

    I don't understand the mentality that supports Israel's attempt to obliterate Palestinians from the face of the earth. with our full military and financial support. Both nations deserve to exist, and need to somehow accept the other. But to think that the US is sponsoring this ethnic cleansing is sickening to me.

    January 24, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  21. Ted

    I consider myself a liberal in most socioeconomic issues but I have to support Israel's right to exist. Also hypothetically, if one of our bordering neighbors were firing rockets and someone I loved were hurt or killed I really don't think I could forgive or forget either. Hamas is and always has been a terrorist organization. Why then souldn't Israel defend it's citizens?

    January 24, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  22. a0

    I hate to say it, but israel are just a bunch of bullies killing civilians. they are as bad as hammas.

    January 24, 2009 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  23. T.C.Johnsen

    American public opinion about Israel's use of force against Palestinian civilians can, in part, be attributed to the U.S. media's near total lack of coverage of the effects of Israeli tactics on neighboring, once thriving peoples. You might question whether or night you could learn from your international competitors, unless, of course, advertising revenue is a more important consideration than thorough journalism.

    January 24, 2009 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  24. William

    I for one do not support Israel’s Gaza incursion and this poll is BS. You can't bomb innocent people forced to live with Stone Age amenities to the age before that and expect that people won't call it an atrocity. Of course, I do not support Hamas militants and their rocket fire either. How long does it take these people to realize that murder doesn't provide any solutions?

    January 24, 2009 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  25. Sarah

    The Israeli's approach war like dangerously spoiled children in need of reprimand because of support from the US. If anyone's paying attention, they used a white phosphorus bomb: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7848768.stm

    January 24, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
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