New Poll Reveals Sharp Generational Divide in Attitudes Toward Israeli Assault on Gaza

Gallup finds men approve of Israeli's actions more than women, and older Americans more than younger.

A new Gallup poll has revealed some surprising results in Americans' attitudes toward the current crisis in Gaza, and whether Israeli actions there are justified. One poll showed that Americans in general see Israel as much more justified in its use of violence than Hamas is. And the proportion of those who approve of Israel's actions compared with those who do not is about the same as it was during the last major conflagration between Israel and the Palestinians 12 years ago. The polling organization surveyed about 1,000 Americans.

As Jeffrey Jones, who summarized the poll for Gallup, put it:

Americans are divided in their views of whether Israel's actions against the Palestinian group Hamas is "mostly justified" or "mostly unjustified," but they widely view Hamas' actions as mostly unjustified. Those results are similar to what Gallup measured 12 years ago during another period of heightened Israeli-Palestinian violence, and they are consistent with Americans' generally more positive views of the Israelis than of the Palestinians.

The numbers are strikingly similar. On 2002, 44 percent of those polled said Israel's actions were justified, and just 17 percent saw Palestinian actions as justified. This was before the rise of Hamas, and Palestinians were mostly resisting the occupation with suicide bombers. In 2014, 42 percent of Americans see Israel's use of force as justified, while just 11 percent see those of Hamas (mostly rocket fire) as justified.

But there were big divides between the parties (65 percent of Republicans approve of Israel's actions; while just 31 percent of Democrats do); between the genders (51 percent of men approved of Israel's actions compared with 33 percent of women); and between the races. (50 percent of whites see Israel's actions as justified compared with 25 percent of non-whites.)

Perhaps the biggest discrepancy was between the age groups. Put simply, the older you are, the more likely you are to approve of Israeli actions. Here's how it breaks down:

Higher educational levels tended to mean more favorable views of Israel.

Gallup does not offer much interpretation of these numbers, and some will surely see evidence of Israel's massive P.R. machine in the results. 

Jones concludes:

Americans are generally pessimistic about the Israelis and Palestinians being able to settle their differences and live in peace, and while the escalated tensions between the two sides have been a major news story the last two weeks, the American public does not view it as any more serious than past conflicts.

Americans continue to exhibit more positivity toward Israel than the Palestinians, but also stop short of saying Israel's actions in the current situation are justified.

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