by Gil Ronen, INN
(IsraelNN.com) Americans’ support for Israel in the conflict with the Arabs of Judea, Samaria and Gaza remains extremely high, with 62 percent of Americans considering themselves supporters of Israel and only 9 percent as “supporters of the Palestinians.” These are some of the findings of a new bipartisan poll commissioned by The Israel Project (TIP).
By a similar margin (61 to 10), Americans believe the U.S. should support Israel in the conflict with the Arabs of Judea, Samaria and Gaza. TIP says this is in stark contrast to a 2002 poll, when fully 68 percent of Americans thought the U.S. should take neither side in the conflict.
The poll also shows Americans do not believe the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran’s nuclear projects and worry the NIE report will make the U.S. less safe. The survey shows that while 75 percent of likely voters had heard about the NIE report, only 27 percent believed its assessment that Iran’s nuclear program ended in 2003, while 69 percent believe that the nuclear weapons program is still underway.
85% of those polled consider Iran a serious threat, including 44% who consider it an immediate threat.
‘NIE makes us less safe’
Additionally, 64 percent fear America “will be less safe” based on this intelligence estimate “because it might lead to reduced pressure on Iran to stop its nuclear capacity for good.” Only 27 percent thought “we are more safe” after the estimate “because it shows the threat from Iran is not as imminent as had been believed.”
There is a clear sense that despite the NIE report, Americans remain very concerned about Iran and want to expand sanctions and other peaceful efforts to curtail the threat. Fully 85 percent of those polled consider Iran a serious threat, including 44 percent who consider it an immediate threat to the United States.
“The public views Iran as a threat and even after the NIE, they strongly support intensifying sanctions and diplomatic measures,” said Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, founder and president of The Israel Project. “This is good news as there is still time to use the power of the purse for peace,” said Mizrahi, whose organization has provided information on economic ways to help prevent war.
More than three fourths of likely voters approve of “expanded United Nations economic and diplomatic actions” to deal with Iran and 85 percent approve of “support of opposition groups in Iran that are working for democracy and human rights.”
‘Stop civilian nukes as well”
Americans are uncomfortable even with Iran’s supposed civilian nuclear research program. When asked, “Do you think Iran should be allowed to continue its civilian nuclear research program or should the international community try to prevent Iran from further nuclear research,” 69 percent agreed with the latter.
Asked about the motivation of the earlier NIE reports that concluded that Iran was developing nuclear weapons, a majority (61 percent) did not believe they had been “deliberate misrepresentations.” Still, they do not trust the current NIE, instead preferring to believe British intelligence findings (67 percent) that Iran’s “nuclear weapons program continues.”
Most Americans want a peaceful, two-state solution to the conflict. Although just 39 percent had heard a “great deal” or “some” about the Annapolis peace talks, a wide majority of 81 percent believe that “the goal of peace talks in the Middle East should be both a Palestinian state and peace and security in recognized borders for Israel and the Palestinians.” This is in contrast to only 12 percent who believe “the goal of peace talks in the Middle East should solely be the creation of a Palestinian state.”
63 percent agreed ‘Israel’s actions toward the Palestinians are understandable.’
A big obstacle, however, remains PA terrorism. Fully 70 percent of respondents agree that “Palestinian acts of terrorism are unacceptable, no matter the conditions in which they live.” Even though 60 percent were “largely unaware of the 2,000 rockets that have been shot into Israel from Gaza,” 63 percent agreed that “Israel’s actions toward the Palestinians are understandable given the security threat they face,” while only 29 percent believe them to be an overreaction.
Nevertheless, most do not see a direct tie between the Israeli-PA conflict and international terrorism. By a 55 to 43 margin, a majority of Americans believe “a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians would not have much of an impact on terrorism around the world.”
The poll of 800 U.S. likely voters was conducted for The Israel Project by Public Opinion Strategies and Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research. The margin of error is +/- 3.5 percent.