NEW YORK (Feb. 3)
There has been little erosion of support for Israel among Americans since unrest began in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, according to a new poll taken for the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith and released today.
By a margin of 47 to 14 percent, respondents sympathized more with Israel than with the Arabs, and 43 percent felt the United States should give stronger support to Israel than to the Arabs, compared to 11 percent who held the opposite view.
The poll was conducted from Jan. 20 to 24 by Penn and Schoen Associates among a random sampling of 810 Americans of diverse social. ethnic, religious, geographical and economic backgrounds.
The pollsters compared their results with those of a similar survey taken by the same organization in August 1981, a time of relative calm in the Middle East.
In the January 1988 poll, 52 percent of the respondents thought Israel was a reliable ally of the United States, compared to 45 percent in 1981. Those who believed Israeli actions threatened American interests in the Middle East dropped to 28 percent from 35 percent in 1981.
On the question of who is “most responsible” for the unrest in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, 43 percent singled out the Palestine Liberation Organization, 16 percent thought it was the Arabs in the area, 16 percent blamed Israel and 26 percent had no opinion.
Asked whether the current unrest stemmed from legitimate grievances against Israel or whether it was organized by the PLO, 39 percent cited the PLO, compared to 33 percent who felt Palestinian grievances were legitimate. Nine percent cited both and 19 percent had no opinion.
But 36 percent of the respondents believed Israel’s reaction to the disturbances was too harsh, compared to 29 percent who thought it was appropriate in the circumstances and 12 percent who said it was not harsh enough.