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Americans’ patience with Israel appears to wear thin

Americans

Democrats
especially

have
soured
on
Israel’s
military
response
to
Hamas’s
Oct.
7
attack.
A
pair
of
new
polls
Wednesday
made
that
starkly
clear.

While
the
American
public
initially
supported
Israel’s
military
action
in
Gaza,
a

Gallup
poll

shows
it
now
disapproves
55
percent
to
36
percent.
Democrats
were
roundly
critical,
disapproving
by
a
whopping
75-18
margin.

A

Quinnipiac
University
poll
,
meanwhile,
found
that
Americans
opposed
more
military
aid
for
Israel
52
percent
to
39
percent

after

supporting

the
aid
by
a
similar
margin
in
November.

On
top
of
previous
polls
showing
increasing
criticism
of
Israel,
these
surveys
reinforce
the
difficult
political
times
for
U.S.-Israeli
relations
and
a
Biden
administration
that,
at
least
initially,
came
out
strongly
on
Israel’s
side.

But
it’s
worth
putting
those
numbers
in
context:
Americans
still
support
Israel
and
its
cause,
if
not
its
prosecution
of
the
war,
and
they
differentiate
between
the
Israeli
people
and
their
government.

This
U.S.
ally
hasn’t
squandered
Americans’
sympathies

at
least
yet.

The
trend
regarding
support
for
the
war,
however,
is
clear;
the
polls
are

just
the
latest

to
show
Americans
turning
against
Israel’s
military
campaign.
They
have
shown
Democrats,
in
particular,
increasingly
sympathize
more
with
the
Palestinians
than
the
Israelis

by
a
striking
48
percent
to
21
percent
in
the
Quinnipiac
poll.

But
even
as
they
express
views
that
are
somewhat
tough
to
reconcile,
Americans
and
even
Democrats
still
sympathize
with
Israel.
A
thorough

Pew
Research
Center
poll

last
week
gets
at
that
nuance.

The
new
Gallup
poll
shows
Americans
disapprove
of
Israel’s
campaign
by
a
19-point
margin,
but
the

Pew
poll

showed
they
viewed
Israel’s
cause
as
valid
by
a
45-point
margin.
While
58
percent
said
Israel’s
reasons
for
fighting
Hamas
were
at
least
“somewhat”
valid,
only
15
percent
disagreed,
and
just
22
percent
said
Hamas’s
cause
was
valid.

While
just
18
percent
of
Democrats
approve
of
Israel’s
campaign
in
the
new
Gallup
poll,
the
Pew
poll
showed
a
majority
(52
percent)
said
their
reasons
for
fighting
were
valid.

Another
key
point
is
just
how
strongly
Americans
disapprove
of
Israel’s
campaign.

While
the
Gallup
poll
showed
55
percent
of
Americans
disapprove,
the
Pew
poll
showed
just
20
percent
labeled
it
“completely
unacceptable.”
That
included
32
percent
of
Democrats.

The
negative
split
in
the
overall
number
also
appears
to
owe
plenty
to
people
who
aren’t
actually
paying
close
attention.
The
Gallup
poll
showed
approval
falls
from
43
percent
among
those
following
the
situation
very
closely
to
37
percent
of
those
following
it
somewhat
closely
to
27
percent
among
those
not
following
it
closely.
That
suggests
a
fair
amount
of
the
opposition
isn’t
terribly
engaged.

And
finally,
there’s
the
line
that
Americans
draw
between
Israel
and
its
leaders.
The
Pew
poll
showed
64
percent
of
Americans
have
a
favorable
opinion
of
the
Israeli
people,
compared
to
just
41
percent
who
have
a
favorable
opinion
of
the
Israeli
government.
The
gap
was
bigger
among
Democrats,
with
58
percent
favoring
the
Israeli
people
and
just
24
percent
favoring
its
government.

Much
of
the
discontent
has
to
do
with
Israeli
Prime
Minister
Benjamin
Netanyahu.
Democrats
dislike
him
63-5,
according
to
the
Quinnipiac
poll,
and
independents
dislike
him
43-23.

The
full
picture
is
one
of
a
strained
relationship,
but
not
one
in
which
the
longstanding
alliance
between
the
countries
is
necessarily
taking
a
turn
for
the
irreparable.

There
remain
huge
political
challenges
ahead
for
the
Biden
administration.
The
Gallup
poll
shows
Biden’s
approval
on
this
issue
dropping
below
a
majority
even
among
Democrats
(47
percent).
Just
21
percent
of
independents
and
16
percent
of
Republicans
approved.

We’ve
also
seen
the
Biden
administration
struggle
to
find
its
bearings,
including
when
Senate
Majority
Leader
Charles
Schumer
(D-N.Y.)

called
for
new
elections

in
Israel
this
month

essentially
indicating
that
it’s
time
for
a
new
leader.
Mostly
recently,
this
tension
has
manifested
in
a
dispute
over
a
United
Nations
vote
that
led
Israel
to

cancel
a
delegation
to
the
United
States
.

But
there
are
also
some
conflicting
signals
on
public
support
for
the
U.S.
posture.
While
a
majority
of
Americans
don’t
want
to
send
more
aid,
just
33
percent
in
the
Quinnipiac
poll
said
the
United
States
is
currently
“too
supportive”
of
Israel.
That
goes
up
to
41
percent
among
Democrats,
but
it’s
still
well
shy
of
a
majority
view.

The
danger
for
the
Biden
administration
is
in
a
prolonged
conflict
that
forces
it
to
make
more
tough
choices,
potentially
splitting
the
Democratic
base
in
the
process
and
even
alienating
some
independents.

Former
president
Donald
Trump
in
an
interview
this
week
urged
Israel
to
finish
up
your
war
.”

“We
can’t
have
this
going
on,”
Trump
said.
“And
I
will
say,
Israel
has
to
be
very
careful
because
you’re
losing
a
lot
of
the
world,
you’re
losing
a
lot
of
support.”

On
that
last
count,
at
least,
Trump,
Biden
and
the
American
people
would
seem
to
be
in
agreement.

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