In a historic first, US Democrats sympathise more with Palestinians than Israelis

In a historic first, US Democrats sympathise more with Palestinians than Israelis
Sympathy towards Palestinians has increased among Democrats in the United States over the last year, following a wave of violence by Israel in the occupied West Bank.
3 min read
17 March, 2023
Sympathy towards Palestinians among Democrats in the US now stands at 49 percent [Getty]

A poll conducted by Gallup has shown that for the first time, Democrats in the US sympathise more with Palestinians than with Israelis, in a historic shift following a wave of Israeli violence in the occupied West Bank.

The opinion poll by the Washington DC-based research company showed that around 49 percent of those surveyed felt more sympathy towards Palestinians, who have been subject to decades-long violence and occupation since the invasion of the West Bank by Israel in 1967.

Meanwhile, 38 percent of Democrats, the governing party in the US, said their sympathies lay with Israelis.

The poll's results indicate an 11 percent increase in sympathy with Palestinians over the last year, coinciding with the establishment of a far-right government in Israel.

This has seen the number of American Democrats who sympathised with Israelis and those who did not favour one side significantly reduced.

Despite increased sympathy towards Palestinians among Democrats, former New York governor Andrew Cuomo announced earlier this week that he will form a "new pro-Israeli advocacy group", in a bid to counter the rise of pro-Palestinian support among people affiliated with his party.

The group will be called "Progressives for Israel", according to Jewish American organisation The Forward.

The findings also revealed that support for Palestinians has increased among political independents, rising to 32 percent, although more independents (49 percent) lean towards Israel.

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Republicans, however, remain staunchly in support of Israelis with 78 percent in favor 0f the country, which continues to occupy the West Bank and lay siege to Gaza.

"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 research company said.

"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", it added.

The poll's results suggest that overall American support for Palestinians has reached a new high of 31 percent, although public backing for Israel remains more or less the same at 54 percent.

Overall, US sympathy for Israel is at its lowest point since 2005, according to data provided by Gallup.

It also concluded that for the first time, Israel has not enjoyed a better than 2-to-1 advantage over the Palestinians in the general sympathies of Americans.

Millennials - those roughly born between 1981 and 1996 - can be attributed to the uptick in American support for Palestine, with 42 percent expressing sympathy, although 40 found themselves aligning with Israelis.

Those who belong to older generations, such as Generation X, are more likely to support Israel.

Meanwhile, limited data showed that adults in Generation Z share similar views to their millennial predecessors.

The poll comes as Israel carried out a greater number of deadly raids in the West Bank this year, killing at least 88 Palestinians, including 16 children under the new far-right government.

Israeli forces have continued to place obstacles in the face of peace in the occupied territories, as illegal settlements continue to expand under Israel’s new right-wing government, which has been described as the most extreme in the country's history.

Hundreds of Palestinians remain in detention without charge while Gaza remains under a suffocating siege, seeing Palestinians there live in extreme poverty and starved of vital health services.