Taking the Pulse of Americans on Israel

A Majority Have Feelings of Sympathy (69%), Admiration (58%), Generosity (54%) and Solidarity (52%) Towards Israel

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Toronto, ON – A new Ipsos Reid poll conducted on behalf of The Promise Entertainment Corporation has taken the pulse of Americans when it comes to their attitudes and opinions of Israel. The data has revealed many wide-ranging opinions on Israel and its place in the world.

Thinking about some emotions or feelings that Americans have towards Israel, seven in ten (69%) agree that they feel ‘sympathetic’ (22% strongly/47% somewhat) for the people and state of Israel, while a majority agrees it has ‘admiration for’ (58%, 20% strongly/39% somewhat), feels ‘generous towards’ (54%, 14% strongly/40% somewhat), and has ‘solidarity with’ (52%, 15% strongly/38% somewhat) the state and the people of Israel. Nearly one half agree (47%, 15% strongly/33% somewhat) that they have ‘pride in’ the people and state of Israel.

However, for some, the people and state of Israel strike a less positive impression, agreeing that they feel ‘frustrated’ (49%, 12% strongly/38% somewhat), ‘anxiety’ (44%, 8% strongly/36% somewhat) and ‘fear’ (32%, 7% strongly/25% somewhat) when thinking about Israel. For others , the emotion or feeling which goes with these thoughts include being ‘angry’ (27%, 7% strongly/20% somewhat) or even ‘hateful’ (16%, 3% strongly/13% somewhat).

Americans were also asked about whether or not they agreed or disagreed that certain statements provided to them as they relate to Israeli life:

  • Less than one half (44%) ‘agree’ (17% strongly/27% somewhat) that ‘in Israel, women have the same rights as men’, while a majority (56%) ‘disagree’ (24% strongly/32% somewhat) that this is the case.
  • Nearly one half (47%) ‘agree’ (12% strongly/35%) that the United States ‘has values similar to those held by people who live in Israel’. Conversely, a majority (53%) ‘disagrees’ (21% strongly/32% somewhat) that these values are similar.
  • Six in ten (61%) ‘agree’ (15% strongly/46% somewhat) that ‘Israel is a multi-cultural society’, but four in ten (39%) ‘disagree’ (10% strongly/29% somewhat) with this statement.
  • Eight in ten (83%) Americans ‘agree’ (37% strongly/47% somewhat) that ‘most Israeli citizens want peace, not war’. Just two in ten (17%) ‘disagree’ (3% strongly/13% somewhat) with this notion.
  • Americans are split on whether ‘Israeli government policies work against attaining true and lasting peace in the Middle East’. A slim majority (52%) ‘agrees’ (11% strongly/42% somewhat), while nearly one half (48%) ‘disagrees’ (15% strongly/33% somewhat).
  • A majority (56%) of Americans ‘agree’ (22% strongly/34% somewhat) that ‘in Israel, women are required to perform military service’, while a minority ‘disagrees’ (12% strongly/34% somewhat).
  • Only three in ten (30%) ‘agrees’ (5% strongly/25% somewhat) that ‘Israel is most to blame for the ongoing instability in the Middle East’. Seven in ten (70%) ‘disagree’ (30% strongly/40% somewhat) with this provocative statement.

In many instances, an apparent lack of knowledge was evident in the data. For example, only one quarter (24%) of Americans said that Israel is best described as ‘a parliamentary democracy’, while even fewer labelled it as a ‘one party state’ (7%), a ‘military dictatorship’ (6%), a ‘republic’ (6%) or a ‘theocracy’ (3%). In fact, a majority (54%) did not know which of the above best described Israel politically.

Similarly, eight in ten (83%) Americans did not know which of the following five major inventions is credited to Israel: 6% thought it was the landmine, 4% the cell phone, 4% escape-proof fencing, 2% the cash register, 1% the washing machine.

Of particular interest is that eight in ten (79%) Americans ‘agree’ (26% strongly/53% somewhat) that Israel can be described as a war zone, but that only 3% believe that it poses the biggest threat to peace in the Middle East among a list of 7 different countries or groups, placing it well behind Al Qaeda (47%), Iran (27%), and Hamas (6%) and only slightly ahead of Palestine (2%) and Syria (1%). In fact, more Americans believe that the United States (13%), not Israel (3%), represents the biggest threat to Peace in the Middle East.

Moreover, a majority (54%) of Americans say they personally ‘support’ (21% strongly/33% somewhat) Israel, compared to the minority (46%) that says they ‘don’t support’ (24% much/23% at all) Israel.

Thinking about some terms that could be used to describe Israel, a majority (57%) of Americans ‘agree’ (12% strongly/45% somewhat) that ‘respected’ is a word that describes Israel well. Conversely, four in ten (43%) ‘disagree’ (32% somewhat/12% strongly) with this assessment. Some other terms that Americans weighted in on include:

  • Nearly one half (46%) ‘agree’ (8% strongly/39% somewhat) that Israel is described as ‘solution oriented’, while a slim majority ‘disagrees’ (14% strongly/40% somewhat) that this terms describes Israel.
  • Four in ten (41%) ‘agree’ (5% strongly/36% somewhat) that the word ‘compromising’ describes Israel, while six in ten ‘disagree’ (18% strongly/41% somewhat).
  • Just under four in ten (39%) ‘agree’ (8% strongly/31% somewhat) that Israel could be described as ‘oppressors’, while the majority (61%) ‘disagrees’ (23% strongly/38% somewhat) that this is the case.
  • Only one third (35%) of Americans ‘agree’ (7% strongly/28% somewhat) that Israel is described as a ‘rogue state’, while two in three ‘disagree’ (27% strongly/38% somewhat’).
  • Still, only on in three (32%) would ‘agree’ (6% strongly/26% somewhat) that Israel could be described as a ‘vacation destination’. Perhaps this is because a majority (52%) of Americans believe ‘there is very little nightlife’ in Israel because ‘music and drinking are discouraged’. Furthermore, two in ten (17%) believe that Israelis are in ‘constant prayer’, and just one in three (31%) believe Israel has ‘world-class nightclubs and bars’.

All things considered, only 5% of Americans believe that Israel’s contribution to the world is a negative, overall loss. The vast majority (60%) believes its contribution is ‘positive, overall’ (31%) or ‘neither an overall benefit nor overall loss to the world’ (29%). One in three (35%) Americans don’t know which best describes Israel’s contribution to the world.

These are the findings of an Ipsos Reid poll conducted from August 11 to August 15, 2008 and from August 20 to August 21, 2008. This online survey of 1007 Americans (first wave) and 1008 Americans (second wave) was conducted via the Ipsos I-Say Online Panel, Ipsos Reid’s national online panel. The results are based on a sample where quota sampling and weighting are employed to balance demographics and ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the actual American population according to Census data. Quota samples with weighting from the Ipsos online panel provide results that are intended to approximate a probability sample. An unweighted probability sample of this size, with a 100% response rate, would have an estimated margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

For more information on this news release, please contact:

John Wright
Senior Vice President
Ipsos Reid
Public Affairs
(416) 324-2002

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