WASHINGTON (JTA) — By a more than 3-to-1 margin, Americans blame Palestinians more for the Gaza conflict than Israelis, according to two new surveys.
A survey of 800 registered voters by The Israel Project found that 56 percent of respondents placed more of the blame on Palestinians, while 18 percent faulted the Israelis more. The poll also found that 66 percent of Americans blamed "Hamas leaders who control Gaza" for "the current humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip," while 17 percent said "Israeli leaders" were more at fault.
And in a Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, 41 percent of those surveyed say Hamas is "most responsible for the outbreak in violence," to just 12 percent who blame Israel. Thirty-nine percent responded "don’t know." The poll also found that Americans sympathized more with Israel than the Palestinians by a 49-11 margin.
The Pew poll also found that Americans approve of Israel’s actions in Gaza by a 40-33 margin, but 50 percent of those surveyed said Israel had "responded about right" compared to 24 percent who felt the Jewish state had "gone too far." And only 9 percent of those polled felt the United States should publicly criticize Israel, while 39 percent said the U.S. should give Israel public support and 38 percent felt it should "say or do nothing."
A partisan gap existed in the Pew poll. Republicans approved of Israel’s military action by 55-20 percent, while Democrats disapproved of the campaign by a 45-29 margin.
Asked in The Israel Project poll whether the conflict between Israel and Palestinians is "really about land" or is about "ideology and religion" and will only be settled when the two sides "acknowledge each other’s right to exist," 73 percent favored the latter explanation to 19 percent for the former.
The Israel Project survey was taken Jan. 10-12 by Neil Newhouse of Public Opinion Strategies and Stan Greenberg of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent. The Pew poll was taken from Jan. 7-11 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.