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Palestinians Winning Support of Better-educated Americans

March 23, 1988
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Israel continues to enjoy solid support among Americans as a whole, but Palestinians appear to be winning greater sympathy among the better-educated and higher-income groups, according to an independent national survey released Monday by the Wirthlin Group.

The Wirthlin Group, headed by Richard Wirthlin, President Reagan’s pollster, surveyed 1,000 adults between March 9 and 11.

The results showed that 42 percent of college-educated Americans said their sympathies lay more with the Palestinians compared to 38 percent who sympathized more with Israel. The margin for error was plus or minus 3 percent.

Americans as a whole favored Israel over the Palestinians by a margin of 43 to 26 percent. College graduates were evenly divided in their sympathies at 39 percent each. But among holders of post-graduate degrees, 50 percent felt more sympathy for the Palestinians, while 34 percent favored the Israelis.

Neil Newhouse, vice president of the Wirthlin Group, said the results were a disturbing sign for Israel, because better-educated, higher-income Americans “represent this nation’s opinion leaders and potential financial support for Israel.”

Broken down by yearly income, Americans earning $30,000 to $40,000 sympathized most with Israel by a margin of 46 percent to 30 percent for the Palestinians. But those earning over $40,000 favored the Palestinians over Israel by 43 to 36 percent. Israel was favored 45 to 15 percent by Americans who earn less than $15,000 a year than $15,000 a year and 44 to 28 percent by those earning between $15,000 and $30,000.

Sympathy for the Palestinians did not translate into sympathy for the Arab states in their conflict with Israel, according to the survey Israel was favored over the Arab nations by 49 to 17 percent, while 26 percent favored neither and 8 percent had no opinion.

Newhouse observed that while the results of the survey “do not show a great deal of erosion of support for Israel in general terms in the Middle East, they do indicate that fewer Americans are willing to give Israel the benefit of the doubt in that country’s dealing with the Palestinians.”

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