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Vast Majority of American Voters Back Israel

The vast bulk of American voters back Israel in its bid to oust Hamas from Gaza, with clear majorities expressing support for Israel’s ongoing military operations alongside opposition to a ceasefire that does not involve the release of more than 100 hostages still held captive by the terrorist group, according to a new Harvard-Harris poll released this week.

Asked whether they back Israel or Hamas more in the current conflict, 82 percent of voters chose Israel. A further 68 percent agreed that Israel was trying to avoid inflicting civilian casualties in Gaza as it seeks to eradicate Hamas from the territory.

Asked whether a ceasefire should be put in place, 68 percent of the respondents said that such a move should be conditional on the release of the remainder of the hostages.

On the question of Israel’s military operation, 67 percent said they supported a continuing ground invasion of Gaza even when it was pointed out that they might oppose it because “1.2 million civilians have taken shelter there and will be under significant risk of harm if Israel pushes forward.”

A heavy majority of respondents — 78 percent — agreed that Hamas needed to be removed from governing Gaza. Asked about who should administer the territory after the war, 34 percent answered Israel, while 39 percent expressed support for a new authority created by Arab states. Only 28 percent believed that the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority (PA) should govern in a post-war scenario.

The poll also examined voter attitudes towards the wider region, with 80 percent agreeing that US forces in the Middle East are facing attacks from local terrorist groups. US President Joe Biden’s policy towards Iran has also attracted significant criticism, with 54 percent answering that the US response to attacks launched by Iranian-backed terrorist organizations in Yemen, Syria and Iraq had been “too weak.” Pressed further on whether Biden’s Iran policy had been “successful,” 61 percent answered negatively.

The poll results are likely to cheer Israeli leaders and Jewish communities in the US amid a major spike in antisemitism and visceral attacks, especially on college campuses and on social media, on the Jewish state’s right to exist in the wake of the Oct. 7 Hamas pogrom in southern Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu alluded to the poll in a riposte on Tuesday to Biden’s claim in a TV interview that Israel is going to lose support globally because of its “incredibly conservative government.”

“We have significant support in this area,” Netanyahu said. “This gives us another source of strength to continue our war against Hamas until total victory.”

While concern has been regularly voiced since Oct. 7 about growing hostility to Israel among younger voters, the Harvard-Harris poll demonstrated solid levels of support among these demographics, if not quite as concentrated as among older voters.

Among 18-24 year olds, support for Israel stood at 72 percent, and at 66 percent among voters aged 25-34. More than 90 percent of voters over 55 declared their support for Israel.

However, a majority of 18-24 year olds — 53 percent — expressed backing for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza irrespective of whether the hostages are released, while the majority of older voters remained opposed. Among the over 55s, more than 80 percent said they were opposed to a ceasefire absent the release of the hostages.

On whether Israel’s ground invasion should continue, 57 percent of voters in the 18-24 and 25-34 age groups were in favor.

The Harvard-Harris poll was conducted on Feb. 21-22 with a survey of 2,022 registered voters.

Ben Cohen