Race and Ethnicity - Public opinion and israel

Proponents of pro-Israel policies might well be sobered by changing public attitudes toward Israel and Middle Eastern issues, and what such changes might mean for future U.S. policy. In the fifteen surveys since 1989 in which the Gallup Poll has asked Americans to describe their attitude toward Israel, there is still a 59โ€“30 percent advantage of favorable to unfavorable. However, these results indicate declining public support from earlier times. For comparison, the three countries with the highest rankings in the Gallup survey are Canada (17 May 1999), Australia (12 February 2001), and Great Britain (16 February 2001), with, respectively, 90โ€“7, 85โ€“8, and 85โ€“9 percent favorable to unfavorable ratings.

Events in the Middle East occasionally signal the very real possibilities of regional war, a world energy crisis, the use of nuclear weapons, or an unleashing of worldwide terrorist activities. As a result the American public has heard, read, and seen more about this region than most others, and increasingly has arrived at conclusions not shared by the government of Israel or its American proponents. Successful lobbying groups would often prefer to have their issues exist "under the radar" of public attention.

A Gallup Poll survey in May 1999 indicated that the American public, by a margin of 53โ€“26 percent, favored the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Creating such a state has long been the goal of the Palestinian Authority, the internationally sanctioned agency that legally represents the interests of Palestinians currently living within the boundaries of Israel.

Israel remains one of the firmest allies of the United States, and it continues to draw support from the majority of Americans. Arabs are generally viewed unfavorably by the public. The Palestinian Authority received a 22โ€“63 percent unfavorable rating when Gallup surveyed public opinion in February 2001. What is likely to change in the future is that the efforts of Jewish Americans, and other supporters of Israel, will no longer go unchallenged by other ethnic groups or larger elements of the general public who have views contrary to those of Israel and Israel's American supporters.

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