Gallup Records Significant Drop in Democrats’ Sympathy for Israel

By Patrick Goodenough | February 24, 2015 | 4:27am EST

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Obama meet in the White House in May 2011. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

( – The proportion of Democrats who sympathize more with Israel than with Palestinians in the Mideast conflict dropped ten points this year to 48 percent, according to a new poll by Gallup. The polling company suggested a link to tensions between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu over the Iran nuclear threat.

In addition, the percentage of Democrats viewing Israel favorably also dropped – by 14 points – over the past year, from 74 percent to 60, the poll found.

By contrast Republican sympathy for Israel over the Palestinians rose to 83 percent, continuing a trend that has risen from the low 50s in the late-1990s. Only in its 2010 poll did Gallup record a higher GOP sympathy for Israel, at 85 percent.

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When the views of Americans of all political persuasions are taken into account, since 9/11 Americans have favored Israel by between 59 (2004) and 72 percent (2014). Over the same period, Americans’ favorable views of the Palestinian Authority (P.A.) has ranged from a low of 11 percent (2006) to a high of 27 (2005).

In the latest poll, 70 percent of Americans overall said they view Israel favorably, and 62 percent said they sympathize more with the Israelis than the Palestinians. Only 17 percent viewed the P.A. favorably, and 16 percent sympathized more with the Palestinians than the Israelis.

In recent months relations between the White House and Netanyahu government have become increasingly strained, as the Israeli leader continues to argue that a proposed nuclear agreement with Iran will be “dangerous.”

The White House has said from the outset that in negotiations between Iran, the U.S. and five other powers, it will rather settle for no agreement than a bad one. With an end-March deadline for a deal approaching, Netanyahu plans to deliver a speech on the subject to the U.S. Congress next week.

The administration objects to the fact House Speaker John Boehner invited the prime minister to do so without consulting the White House, and Vice-President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry are declining to meet with him during his visit.

Kerry and his Iranian counterpart, Javad Zarif, met in Geneva this week as the nuclear negotiations continued.

On Sunday Netanyahu upped the criticism, telling his cabinet he found it “astonishing” that the negotiations were proceeding even after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in its latest report on Iran raised ongoing concerns that Tehran was not coming clean about the “possible military dimensions” (PMDs) of its past nuclear activities.

“It is astonishing that even after the recent IAEA report determined that Iran is continuing to hide the military components of its nuclear program, the nuclear talks with it are proceeding,” he said. “Not only are they continuing, there is an increased effort to reach a nuclear agreement in the coming days and weeks.”

Netanyahu reiterated that a deal being hammered out was “dangerous for Israel, the region and the entire world” and said he would take that message to Congress – “which could influence the fate of the agreement.”

Asked Friday about the IAEA’s conclusions, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that the administration does have “ongoing concerns about these exact issues.”

“Any agreement would have verification measures that would be an important component of what’s agreed to,” she said. “There’s no final agreement yet, so I can’t outline for you what will be in the final agreement.”

Meanwhile a Gallup poll last month found that, while most Jewish Americans continue to identify as Democrats, the number has been slowly declining since 2008, the year Obama was elected to the White House.

In 2008, 71 percent of American Jews identified as Democrat; in 2014 the number had dropped to 61 percent.

In 2008, 22 percent of American Jews identified as Republicans; in 2014 29 percent did, Gallup reported.

In the 2008 presidential election, Jewish Americans supported Obama by 78 percent and his opponent, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), by 22 percent.

In 2012, 69 percent of American Jews supported Obama while 30 percent supported his GOP rival, Mitt Romney. The former Massachusetts governor garnered the biggest proportion of the Jewish vote of any Republican presidential candidate since George H.W. Bush won 35 percent in 1988.

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