Press Release

ADL Poll: The American People Remain Strongly Supportive of Israel

New York, NY, November 10, 2011 … American public support for Israel in the form of sympathy for the Jewish state, viewing Israel as a critical ally of the U.S. and as the party most interested in peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains strong, according to a new survey commissioned by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

American Attitudes Toward Israel, the Palestinians and Prospects for Peace in the Middle East (.pdf), a national telephone survey of 1,754 adults conducted October 13-23 by Marttila Strategies of Washington, D.C. and Boston, found that a clear majority of Americans – 63 percent – say Israel is a "crucial ally" and its relationship with the United States does not hurt the U.S. image in the rest of the world.

The findings show that a majority of the American people oppose the Palestinian effort to get the United Nations to support unilaterally a Palestinian state and back direct negotiations between the parties as the correct path to peace.

By decisive margins, the ADL survey found Americans continue to sympathize more with Israel than with the Palestinians when it comes to the Palestinian-Israel conflict. Nearly half of all Americans say they sympathize with Israel, as opposed to only 18 percent who say they sympathize with the Palestinians. This represents a slight increase from the 45 percent of Americans who sympathized with Israel in similar polls taken in 2009 and 2007.

The survey has a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percent.

"The poll demonstrates once again that no matter the degree of change in the Middle East, the one constant is the American people's strong support for Israel," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "It is particularly significant that Americans 'get it' with regard to the need for direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians as well as the need to act to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power."

Among the main survey findings were:

  • By a margin of 63%-37%, a majority of Americans believe that Israel is serious about peace.
  • Sympathy with Israel vis-à-vis the Palestinians continues, with 49 percent sympathizing with Israel, 18 percent with the Palestinians.
  • On the subject of Israel as an ally of the U.S., by a margin of 61%-24%, Americans see the relationship as beneficial to the U.S.
  • 73 percent of Americans indicate that Israel can be counted on by the U.S. as a strong ally.
  • On the Arab Spring, Americans are evenly divided (40%-39%) as to whether the U.S. should work with emerging democracies even if it means weakening our strong relationship with Israel.
  • Regarding Iran's development of a nuclear weapon, Americans support Israeli military action to prevent it by 57%-31%, and US military action by 50%-44%.

"Americans continue to see Israel as a strong and loyal ally of the United States, and a strong majority of Americans believes that Israel is serious about making peace with the Palestinians," said Mr. Foxman. "And while Americans are still largely skeptical about the process for peace, a majority believes the conditions for peace have worsened in the past six months and believe the Palestinians are mainly at fault for the present situation."

Additional Findings
  • Americans reject a U.N. vote to create a Palestinian state. By 52%-28%, Americans believe that direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians "are the only appropriate way to create a Palestinian state" rather than going through the U.N.
  • A majority of Americans (64%-27%) believe it is up to the Palestinians and the Israelis to negotiate the final terms of peace with minimal involvement from the U.S.
  • By 58%-22%, Americans believe that a Palestinian state must be preceded by a Palestinian commitment to end violence and accept Israel's legitimacy.
  • By a ratio of 2-1 (52%-25%), Americans firmly reject the idea that American Jews stifle debate about Israel and the Middle East.

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 the 600 respondents, the survey has a margin of error of +/-4 percent. The purpose of split sampling 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.