A newly-released survey of American voters, conducted by prominent public opinion research firm Public Opinion Strategies, shows once again that, contrary to popular belief, American voters are, in fact, quite informed about the goings on in the Middle East, and continue to hold rather strong opinions about it.
Over half of American voters continue to feel warmly toward Israel, and the majority feel that America should continue to support Israel in its conflict with the Palestinians.
Since the beginning of this year, there has also been an 11% increase in the number of Americans feeling coldly toward the Palestinians, rising to nearly half of Americans, and getting within 5% of a decade-long high. Understandably, well over half of Americans feel coldly toward Hamas.
(Incidentally, over two-thirds of Americans feel coldly toward Iran. I guess the other third is not really paying attention.)
In their overall view of the conflict in the Middle East, Americans are also quite informed, and hold strong opinions of their own.
Two-thirds of American voters understand that the conflict is more about ideology than about land. This understanding cuts well across party lines and age groups, with over 60% of voters holding this view in every single age group and party affiliation.
The majority of Americans also opposes the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state without a real peace treaty with Israel, with at least a third strongly opposed to such an action. This opposition has risen by 6% in the last 3 months alone, showing that the more Americans have had a chance to consider this option, the more they realize how troubling it would be. Fewer than 10% would strongly support the declaration of a state without a peace deal – and this number is falling rapidly.
This opposition to a state without a peace agreement with Israel cuts widely across party lines, with the majority of every party’s voters opposed to this solution. In fact, over 60% of voters believe that, should this issue even come up at the UN, the United States must oppose any resolution to recognize a unilateral Palestinian state without a prior peace agreement. 43% of voters feel very strongly about this, and this opposition constitutes the majority position for every political party.
In fact, half of Americans believe a unilateral declaration would make peace less likely, and well over half believe it would only serve to encourage and harden extremists on both sides of the conflict
Even getting into the details of internal political dealings in the Middle East, American voters show that they have been paying attention, and they don’t always like what they see.
The majority of Americans believe the deal between Hamas and Fatah to bring Hamas into the Palestinian government is a bad idea, because:
- Hamas is backed by Iran
- The US considers Hamas to be a terrorist organization
- Hamas would have more influence among Palestinians
In fact, nearly two-thirds of Americans believe Israel should not work with a new Palestinian government that includes Hamas, until Hamas;
- Agrees to honor previous commitments made to Israel
- Agrees to recognize Israel
- And most importantly, renounces violence against civilians
It is my sincerely hope that, with the 2012 election looming on the horizon, American politicians of all stripes will take a good hard look at what the voters have to say, and will remember our views when placing their votes in Congress and when purporting to speak on behalf of the country. Because the country is speaking loud and clear.
A note for the statisticians: The survey included registered American voters from around the country, and was conducted between June 5-7, 2011. The survey has a margin of error of 3.46%.
[Image: Online Survey Tips]