Biden and members of Congress lean toward Israel more than they do

US Democrats say

us israel
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AMMAN — Two University of Maryland Critical Issues polls on American attitudes toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have shown a wide gap between the position of the Democratic Party constituents on the one hand, and that of elected congressional Democrats and the Biden administration on the other. It also showed a split on the question of boycotting Israel.اضافة اعلان

Conducted between May and June, one Critical Issues poll of more than 2,000 respondents, fielded by Nielsen Scarborough, asked how respondents perceived the position of the Biden administration on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, compared to their own. Not surprisingly, a little over half (54 percent) did not know. But most Democrats who expressed an opinion said that the administration’s positions leaned toward Israel more than their own, while most Republicans said the Biden administration was leaning more toward Palestine than they were. Overall, 44 percent of Republicans said the administration was leaning more toward Palestine, and 9 percent said it was leaning more toward Israel, while 26 percent of Democrats said the Biden team was leaning more toward Israel, and 3 percent said it was leaning more toward Palestine.

Asked about the positions of the respondents’ elected congressional representatives, a majority, 56 percent, said “don’t know”, but a majority of those who expressed an opinion said their representatives were leaning toward Israel more than they were personally.

Of Republicans, who on average expressed strong pro-Israel views, 23 percent said their representative were leaning more toward Israel than they were. Only 15 percent said the representatives leaned more toward the Palestinians. Among Democrats who had an opinion, 33 percent said their representatives were leaning toward Israel more than they were, while 3 percent said their representatives were leaning more toward the Palestinians.

The poll also found that two-thirds of Democrats wanted the US to lean neither toward Israelis nor toward Palestinians. Among those who wanted the US to take sides, more Democrats, especially young Democrats, wanted the US to take the side of the Palestinians than Israel’s.

One of the most controversial issues in American political discourse about the Israeli-Palestinian issue has been the question of boycott of Israel, especially the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement.

A second Critical Issues poll, conducted in June among 2,208 respondents, asked a single question about BDS to all participants, without probing first to see who had heard of it and who had not, providing respondents with the option of “don’t know”.

Only 34 percent said they did not know, while another 18 percent said they neither supported nor opposed BDS. Nearly half provided supportive or opposing opinions.

The breakdown along party lines was similar: 50 percent of Republicans strongly or somewhat opposed BDS, while 9 percent supported it, while, 33 percent of Democrats supported BDS and 10 percent opposed it.

Whatever the causes, the gap in opinion about Israel/Palestine between the public and elected congressional officials remains high, even though it had somewhat narrowed after the 2018 and 2020 elections that brought to Congress a few members who appear more reflective of Democratic public opinion on this issue.

In US Democratic politics, the relevant arena on this issue is the primaries, given that Republicans overwhelmingly favor Israel, and even Democratic voters strongly supportive of Israel are unlikely to vote for a Republican candidate in the general election if the Democratic contenders’ position on Israel/Palestine does not match their own. This may explain why the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has been spending millions of dollars in the current primary cycle to defeat candidates deemed not sufficiently pro-Israel, while working to elect others who are.

The gap between the Biden administration and the Democratic public on Israel/Palestine remains wide — and the public perceives it. The Israel-Palestinian issue is not currently a priority in American politics. Even priority foreign policy issues, such as the Russia-Ukraine war, have been shown to have little impact on the American partisan divide. But that does not mean that these issues have no consequence for the popularity of the administration.

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