Israel’s war with Hamas prompted a piercing wake-up call that is reverberating throughout the Jewish world. We are concerned about the security and safety of the people of Israel. We are concerned about the security and safety of the Diaspora Jewish community. And we are concerned about a rising tide of anti-Israel rhetoric and victimization of Jewish students on college campuses across America.
In the immediate aftermath of the brutal Hamas attacks against Israel on Oct. 7, and as the horrifying details of the terrorist spree of murder, mutilation and kidnapping were reported, the world was appalled. Almost everyone understood and accepted that Israel needed to respond to the attack and to do so with force. But, at least for some, that understanding and acceptance was short-lived, as the response played out. That reality didn’t surprise us — but it does disappoint us.
The reports and images of worldwide opposition to Israel’s Hamas war effort are disturbing. The slogans and hateful chants of the protesters are upsetting. The vicious antisemitic and anti-Israel attacks on social media are chilling. And we worry about what impact those activities are having on continued U.S. support for Israel and public opinion.
Last week’s uplifting March for Israel, where nearly 300,000 pro-Israel supporters from around the country packed the National Mall in support of Israel, to demand the release of the 240 hostages held by Hamas and to decry the surge in antisemitism was a welcome antidote to the aggression, hate and ugliness of the pro-Hamas narrative and many of
The world saw a massive yet dignified, peaceful rally in support of Israel — one that celebrated Jewish unity and promoted respect for life — in sharp contrast to the messaging and actions in anti-Israel demonstrations around the world. But even with that positive message, we still wondered how the American public is reacting to what it is seeing, hearing and reading — particularly since it is so difficult to separate the noise from the news.
Based upon multiple recent polls, the answer seems to be that Americans continue to support Israel by significant margins, and that the loud voices of anti-Israel and antisemitic aggression are not having anywhere near the impact that some have feared.
First, according to a recent YouGov poll, Americans sympathize with Israelis over Palestinians by a margin of 37%-15%, with an additional 27% saying that they sympathize with both sides. A second poll by Marist shows a similar result, with a 55% majority believing Israel’s response against Hamas has been “about right” (38%) or has been “too little” (17%), while 38% think the response has gone too far.
The Marist poll also showed that 61% of Americans sympathize with Israelis, compared to 30% who sympathize with the Palestinians — but it did not have a separate category that allowed those surveyed to “support both.” A third poll by Fox News was more one-sided, with 66% of those polled favoring Israelis, and only 22% favoring Palestinians.
We know that perceptions and allegiances may change. But we have faith that the vast majority of Americans will continue to favor good over evil, democracy over authoritarianism and mutual respect and acceptance over hate. And for that, we add an extra measure of appreciation over this Thanksgiving holiday.