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Press Release

Poll: American Support For Israel Remains Solid; Increase In Support For Action To Prevent Iran From Going Nuclear

New York, NY, October 26, 2009 … The American people's strong support for Israel remains constant and their support for action to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power has substantially increased, according to a new nationwide survey released by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today.

The survey's findings demonstrate that Americans recognize Israel as a strong and loyal U.S. ally, are skeptical about "peace dividends" that would be realized by Israel stopping all settlement construction and believe that a Palestinian state must not be established until the Palestinians demonstrate a commitment to end violence and accept Israel's legitimacy.

The 2009 Survey of American Attitudes on Israel, The Palestinians and Prospects for Peace in the Middle East, a national telephone survey of 1,200 American adults, was conducted September 26-October 4, 2009 by Marttila Communications of Washington, D.C. and Boston. The margin of error is +/- 2.8%.

"This latest survey of the American people, coming at a time of a full range of challenging issues facing Israel and the region demonstrates anew the breadth and depth of American public support for Israel from a variety of perspectives," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "Americans see Israel as a loyal ally to the U.S., as being very serious about wanting to achieve peace with the Palestinians and as deserving the sympathy of the American people in the conflict with the Palestinians."

Mr. Foxman also noted a changing dynamic regarding Iran and the nuclear issue. "The significant increase in Americans viewing Iran as a threat and supporting, if nothing else works, U.S. or Israeli military options against Iran, reflect a new and needed sense of urgency about the issue in light of Iran's oppressive policies and the discovery of a secret Iranian nuclear plant," he said. "This is the first time a majority of Americans -- 54% -- support such an option for the U.S."

Key findings on Israel and the Palestinians

  • 67%, the highest figure in recent years, see Israel as a country to be counted on as a strong, loyal U.S. ally (view graph).

  • By a 3-1 ratio, the American people express more sympathy with Israel than with the Palestinians (view graph).

  • 64% of Americans continue to believe that Israel is serious about reaching a peace agreement with the Palestinians (view graph).

  • Americans see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as difficult to resolve. Of the 26% who believe the prospects for peace have worsened (view graph), 51% blame the Palestinians (view graph).

  • There is increased support for U.S. involvement in the process --39%, up from 30% in 2007, but still a significant plurality - 48% -- believe that the sides must solve their own problems with minimal US involvement (view graph).

  • Americans are skeptical about "peace dividends" that would result from a freeze on settlements. 53% believe leaders of the Arab world will continue to refuse to recognize Israel's right to exist, even if Israel stops all further construction settlements; only 25% believe the Palestinians would be prepared to achieve a final resolution of the conflict if Israel stopped further construction of settlements (view graph).

  • 61% of Americans believe that the differences between Israelis and Palestinians will drag on for years. Only 29% believe that the two sides "will never have a better opportunity to reach a peace agreement than they do at the present moment" (view graph).

  • While Americans support the creation of a Palestinian state, 56% believe it must not be established until the Palestinians end the violence and accept Israel's legitimacy (view graph).

  • A majority place the onus for peace on Palestinians because of the division between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, and the Arabs, because of their refusal to accept Israel's right to exist as the major obstacle to peace other than Israeli settlements. 51% believe Palestinian division stands in the way of peace (view graph).

Key Findings on Iran

  • 63% of Americans now see Iran as an immediate or short-term security threat to the Middle East, up from 50% in 2007 (view graph).

  • 83% believe that Iran is developing nuclear weapons, up from 71% in 2007 (view graph).

  • 57% support Israeli military action to keep Iran from developing a nuclear weapons program, up from 42% in 2007. 54% support U.S. military action to keep Iran from developing a nuclear weapons program, up from 47% in 2007 (view graph).


Marttila Communications, a Washington, DC/Boston-based public opinion research firm, which has conducted ADL's previous surveys, conducted this national telephone survey of 1,747 adults. The base sample is 1,200 plus an oversample of 256 African Americans, and 250 Hispanics, bringing the oversample for both communities to 400 each.

For those questions answered by all 1,200 respondents, the survey results have a margin of error of +/- 2.8%. For many questions, the survey used the technique of "split sampling," a process in which the 1,200 person sample was split into two demographically representative samples of 600 respondents each. For those questions that were answered by 600 respondents, the survey has a margin of error of +/- 4 %.

The purpose of split sampling in the survey was to maximize the number of questions that could be asked, to test different hypotheses about an issue, and to test the impact of different question wording.

The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.

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