newsIsrael at War

At least for Hamas, young US voters seem to endorse ‘justified, terror genocide’

While 66% of 18-to-24-year-olds said that Hamas's Oct. 7 terror attacks were genocidal in nature, 60% of the same group said it was justified.

Protesters with Palestinian flags on the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor on Oct. 15, 2023. Credit: Catherine D. Miller/Shutterstock.
Protesters with Palestinian flags on the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor on Oct. 15, 2023. Credit: Catherine D. Miller/Shutterstock.

An overwhelming majority of younger voters apparently harbor contradictory views about Israel, Jews and the Jewish state’s war against Hamas in Gaza.

The Dec. 13-14 online survey of the Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll—which was weighted for age among other factors and drew on responses from 2,034 registered voters—appears to suggest that most voters aged 18 to 24 believe in an apparent oxymoron: justifiable, terrorist genocide.

Younger voters said the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks on Israel were terrorism (73%) and genocidal (66%) in nature, meaning the terror group sought to destroy Israel systematically. Yet 60% said Palestinian grievances can justify Hamas killing 1,200 civilians and kidnapping 250 civilians.

Younger voters self-reported being the likeliest (81%) to pay attention at least somewhat to Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza, compared to 69% overall. But they were also the likeliest to answer questions inconsistently.

Among younger voters, 69% said Israel has a right to exist (compared to 86% overall), and 80% said that Israel has a right to defend itself by launching airstrikes against terror targets even in heavily populated Palestinian areas in Gaza with prior warning. On the flip side, 57% of younger voters said that Israel should cease all hostilities now, while 63% of respondents overall said Israel should keep going until hostages are released and Hamas is defeated.

And while 60% of respondents support a two-state solution, 51% of those ages 18 to 24—the same group that says Israel can bomb heavily populated areas in Gaza and has a right to exist as a Jewish state—said that Israel cease and be handed over to Hamas and Palestinians.

Oct. 7

Younger voters were less likely than the average to call the Oct. 7 attacks terrorism (73% to 84%) and genocidal (66% to 73%). Some 76% of younger voters (and 84% overall) said that Hamas attackers committed rape and other crimes against women on Oct. 7.

Younger voters (81%) said that women’s groups should condemn Hamas’s crimes against women, and 80% said that women’s groups have adequately done so. Yet 60% of those ages 18 to 24—the largest of any age group—said that Hamas’s Oct. 7 attacks could be justified.

Younger voters were evenly split between supporting Israel and Hamas in the war, while 81% of respondents overall supported Israel, and support for Israel rose with age: 25 to 34 (69%), 35 to 44 (76%), 45 to 54 (85%), 55 to 64 (90%) and 65-plus (96%).


The younger demographic overwhelmingly supports (79%) the ideology that white people are oppressors and thinks that ideology is helpful (51%) to society. On average, 65% of respondents did not support the view of whites as oppressors with 69% saying it is hurtful to society.

While 73% of respondents said that Jews are not oppressors as a class, 67% of those ages 18 to 24 said that Jews are as a class oppressors.

Younger voters were the only age demographic to say at a higher rate that discrimination against Muslims is rising in the United States (69%) than discrimination against Jews in the country (66%). Overall, 75% said Jew-hatred was rising stateside, while 65% overall said discrimination against Muslims was rising in the country.

On college campuses, 63% of those ages 18 to 24 think antisemitism is prevalent (compared to 68% overall), and 68% of young voters (76% overall) said that students are harassed for being Jewish. Those ages 25 to 34 (61%) and 45 to 54 (59%) were less likely than their younger peers (63%) to say that antisemitism is prevalent on college campuses, and those 25 to 34 were less likely (59%) than those 18 to 24 (68%) to say that students were harassed for being Jewish.

Younger voters were also the most likely to say that students should be told that they are free to call for genocide against Jews (53%, compared to 74% overall) and the least likely (70%, compared to 79% overall) to say that protesters on university campuses calling for genocide against Jews constitutes hate speech. No other age demographic said by a majority that students should be free to call for genocide against Jews.

Asked who is responsible for Jew-hatred on campus, the largest group (24% overall) said it has always been there. One-fifth said that students are responsible, 18% said left-wing political groups are responsible, 11% blamed university presidents and administrators, 11% blamed foreign funding of universities, and 7% blamed professors. Among those 18 to 24 years old, the largest number (28%) blamed students.

The youngest voters were the likeliest (75%), often by a wide margin, to have watched or otherwise heard about the recent testimony of elite university presidents before a House committee, during which they said that it wouldn’t necessarily violate school policy to call for genocide against Jews. Those 18 to 24 also were the likeliest (67%) to say that those presidents went far enough to condemn antisemitism. Overall, 62% said the presidents didn’t go far enough.

Somewhat confusingly, 73% of those in the 18-to-24 age bracket called for the resignation of the three university presidents, who said that it depends on context whether calling for the genocide against Jews violated their school policies.


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is viewed less favorably—and drew fewer opinions and was less well-known—than the U.S. president and vice president, as well as presidential candidates Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley.

But Netanyahu (36% favorable, 26% unfavorable) is better liked than Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

The gap between positive and negative views of Netanyahu (+10%) was higher than Haley (+9%), much higher than former President Donald Trump (+1%) and shy of Kennedy (+18%) and Elon Musk (+12%). U.S. President Joe Biden (-10%), Vice President Kamala Harris (-7%) and DeSantis (-1%) were more disliked overall than liked.

Asked to choose from a list of nine items, 2% said that Israel was the most important to them personally. The largest group (40%) said inflation, followed by immigration (14%), climate change and crime (each 12%), abortion and racial equality (each 6%), curbing guns (5%) and parental rights in schools (2%).

If U.S. President Joe Biden opted not to run again, 2% of Democrat respondents would prefer that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.)—who has been very critical of Israel—be the Democratic nominee.

Most respondents (65%, with 83% of Republicans and 51% of Democrats) said Republicans should hold up funding for Israel and Ukraine until there is added funding for the U.S. southern border.


Israel is seen favorably (54% to 26%, with 24% seeing it very favorably), just shy of Ukraine (55% to 25%, with 19% very favorable). The Palestinian Authority had a net un-favorability rating, -30%, with 19% favorable and 48% unfavorable. Hamas scored lower: 14% favorable and 65% unfavorable (56% very unfavorable).

Just 7% of respondents said that the Israel-Hamas war was one of the most important issues facing the United States today, though it ranked higher than cybersecurity, COVID-19, the Jan. 6 (2021) riot at the U.S. Capitol and race relations—all of which were a pressing issue to 5% of respondents. Fewer also cited voting rights (4%) and antisemitism (3%).

The same percentage (65%) said that America should be supporting Ukraine against Russia and Israel against Hamas. In each case, 35% said that the United States shouldn’t support the war. But the numbers differed by political denomination. Democrats were likelier to support Ukraine’s war (77%) than Israel’s (63%), while Republicans were likelier to support Israel’s war (71%) than Ukraine’s (56%).

A majority (54%; including 59% of Republicans and 53% of Democrats) support $14 billion in aid to Israel to help it battle Hamas, while 51% of respondents opposed $50 billion in additional aid to Ukraine, with 64% of Republicans opposing and 63% of Democrats supporting.

Most respondents (69%) said that Israel is trying to avoid civilian casualties, and 70% of those ages 18 to 24 said Israel tries to avoid killing civilians. But just 58% of younger voters said Hamas wants to commit genocide against Jews in Israel, compared to 74% of voters overall.

Most voters ages 18 to 24 (60%) and 25 to 34 (56%) said Israel is committing genocide in Gaza rather than defending itself by eliminating Hamas, while every other age group disagreed, often by a wide margin. Those 44 and younger (including 76% of those aged 18 to 24) said that Hamas could be a partner in peace, while those older than 45 and older said that Hamas is dedicated only to destroying Israel. (Among those over age 65, 87% said Hamas is solely devoted to erasing Israel.)

Most voters (74%, 51% of younger voters) said Iran is supporting Hamas, and 86% of voters said Hamas is still holding U.S. hostages.

Younger voters were the only ones to favor (67%) an unconditional ceasefire that would leave everyone in place, while every other age group said that Hamas must be removed from power and all the hostages released before there can be a ceasefire. But notedly, those aged 18 to 24 said that Israel (45%) should run Gaza after Hamas’s removal, rather than the Palestinian Authority (41%) or a new entity with Arab nations (14%).

Every age group but the youngest said that Hamas is a terror group, while 64% of 18- to 24-year-olds said it has a majority of Palestinian support in Gaza. Still, 62% of that age group said Hamas uses human shields to hide from justice. (It wasn’t clear if younger voters thought that most Palestinians in Gaza supported Hamas under duress.)

Those 18 to 24 said by the slimmest margin that Hamas (54%), not Israel, (46%) is responsible for putting Gazan civilians in harm’s way, and younger voters were the only group to say (51%) that Israel is to blame for the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

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