Plurality of Americans Think Israel’s Reasons for Fighting Are ‘Valid,’ but They Are Divided Over Conduct of the War

Some 21 percent of Americans say President Biden is striking about the right balance between favoring Israelis and Palestinians.

AP/Evan Vucci
President Biden and Prime Minister Netanyahu at Tel Aviv, October 18, 2023. AP/Evan Vucci

Nearly six months into the war between Israel and Hamas, a new survey finds that most Americans believe Israel’s reasons for fighting are valid, but they are divided on how Israel has been conducting the war.

A new survey from Pew Research found that 58 percent of Americans feel that Israel’s reasons for fighting are “valid,” with 23 percent saying they are “somewhat valid” and 35 percent saying they are “completely valid.”

A similar proportion of Americans, 59 percent, say that they do not think that Hamas’s reasons for fighting are “valid,” with 34 percent saying they are “not at all valid” and 15 percent saying they are “not too valid.”

Americans are more divided on how the war is being conducted. Although 73 percent of Americans say the way Hamas carried out the October 7 attack was unacceptable, 34 percent say the way Israel is responding is unacceptable. Another 38 percent say Israel’s response is acceptable and 26 percent say they are not sure.

In terms of Americans’ sympathies with the populations affected by the war, 31 percent of respondents said they are entirely or mostly backing the Israeli people while 16 percent said their sympathies lie entirely or mostly with the Palestinian people. Another 26 percent said they feel equally for both.

Americans are also divided on the role that they think the American government should play in the conflict. Among those who responded, 36 percent support the government sending military aid to Israel while 34 percent oppose the measure. Another 29 percent either did not have a preference or were not sure.

Furthermore, only 20 percent of respondents want the American government to play a major diplomatic role in resolving the war, while 35 percent want America to play a minor role and 27 percent want America to play no role at all.

Although the question was asked before America began airdropping aid into Gaza, 50 percent of Americans reported supporting America supplying humanitarian aid to Gazans while 19 percent opposed the measure.

On how President Biden is handling the situation, 22 percent said he is favoring the Israelis too much while 16 percent said the same regarding the Palestinians. Another 21 percent said he was striking about the right balance and 40 percent said they were not sure.

Jewish Americans were among the most likely to say Mr. Biden is striking about the right balance, at 45 percent. Muslim Americans, on the other hand, were the most likely to say that Mr. Biden is favoring Israel too much, at 60 percent. A majority of atheists also believe that Mr. Biden is favoring Israel too much, as well as 43 percent of agnostics.


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