Democrats are increasingly turning their backs on Israel and the Zionist cause and are rapidly becoming more sympathetic to the state of Palestine, the latest Gallup poll has found.
In a poll conducted in February, nearly half of all Democrats said they are supporters of Palestine, while just 38 percent pledged support for Israel.
The results point to a dramatic shift in opinion in recent years. In 2016, around 53 percent said they sympathized more with Israelis, while 23 percent expressed sympathy with the Palestinians.
The shift can be attributed to various factors, but primarily that voters born after 1980 are far more likely to show sympathy for Palestine. Another reason is a change in rhetoric from many Democratic leaders, particularly those on the progressive wing of the party who considers Palestinian sovereignty as a major political issue.
Americans’ views on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict have become more polarized as Democrats increasingly commiserate with the Palestinians, while Republicans maintain their solid alignment with the Israelis. The escalation of Israeli-Palestinian hostilities over the past year, resulting in a high number of Palestinians killed, could partly explain the most recent shift in Democrats’ perspective.
But Democrats’ waning religiosity may be a factor in the longer-term trend. Sympathy for Israel has historically been highly correlated with religion, with those attending religious services weekly being much more sympathetic to the Israelis than those who seldom or never attend.
Regardless of the reasons that Democrats’ (and, to a lesser extent, independents’) views have changed on the conflict, majorities of all generational and party groups still view Israel favorably and look more favorably on Israel than on the Palestinian Authority. This suggests that while rank-and-file Democrats may want Palestinians’ needs addressed, they will want solutions that respect Israel’s needs as well.
Republicans, meanwhile, remain far more supportive of Israel. 82 percent of Republicans say they have a positive view of the country as a whole, compared with just 56 percent of Democrats.
Some Israeli officials have also blamed the shift on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who aligned himself closely with former President Donald Trump and the Republican Party following his decision to recognize Jerusalem rather than Tel Aviv as the country’s capital.
Nearly three weeks into his third stint as leader, Netanyahu has yet to receive an invitation to the Biden White House, indicating potential tension between the two sides over his government’s policies.