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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Vicissitudes of US Public Support for Israel

As usual, opinion polls find that attitudes depend on how you ask the question.
Another study by The Israel Project (TIP, it was briefly mentioned in my Friday column) gives me an opportunity to delve, yet again, into the complicated issue of America's public opinion toward Israel. The study was conducted by Stan Greenberg of Greenberg-Quinlan-Rosner and Neil Newhouse of Public Opinion Strategies. Bottom line: A marked increase is evident in Democrats' support of Israel. But there's much more to it than just that.
Support has increased among Democrats by six points (35 percent in January, 41 percent in June), but decreased among Republicans (three points) and Independents (five points)....
But here's the most interesting phenomenon:
When the question of providing utilities is asked separately, and the interviewees are given two options ("Despite the fact that Hamas wants to destroy Israel, Israel still has a humanitarian obligation to continue to provide Gaza with electricity and water" or "Because Hamas wants to destroy Israel, Hamas should be forced to get electricity and water from Egypt, or on their own, unless they recognize Israel's right to exist"), most Republicans (64 percent), Independents (56 percent) and Democrats (54 percent) think that Hamas should be on its own.
However, if the same question is asked in a different manner - "do you agree or disagree with the following statement: Despite the fact that Hamas wants to destroy Israel, Israel still has a humanitarian obligation to continue to provide Gaza with electricity and water" - Republicans tend to disagree (55 percent), Democrats to agree (59 percent).
Among Israel strong supporters, the second version will provide for only a small majority of people supporting the option of severing all ties (53 percent to 42 percent).
The same thing is true regarding how news is presented. "Israel kills five Gaza Teenagers" is not going to get the same reaction as "Israel kills five terrorists trying to launch Qassam rockets." Unfortunately, the first version is the headline most likely to appear in most media.
Ami Isseroff


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