update deskBoycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS)

Pew study shows little American support for BDS, young adults waver on Israel

Survey shows opinions on Israelis and Palestinians differ vastly along the American political divide.

Palestinians who support boycotting Israel during clashes along the Israel-Gaza border in May 2018. Credit: BDS National Committee via Facebook.
Palestinians who support boycotting Israel during clashes along the Israel-Gaza border in May 2018. Credit: BDS National Committee via Facebook.

Despite massive publicity campaigns, rallies and campus activism in America, only 5% of respondents to a Pew Research poll said they support the movement to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel, with a mere 2% saying they strongly back the idea. In fact, a whopping 84% of respondents said they have heard “not much” or “nothing at all” about BDS, which seeks to delegitimize and destroy the Jewish state.

Additionally, the poll of more than 10,000 respondents—conducted in early-to-mid March and released on Thursday—showed that Americans overall view the Israeli people and government more favorably than the Palestinian people and government. Two-thirds of respondents view Israelis favorably and 52% look upon Palestinians favorably, with 48% holding a positive view of the Israeli government, compared with 28% who hold that sentiment of the Palestinian government.

That’s the good news.

More concerning are survey results showing that younger Americans feel not as warm towards Israel and Israelis as older generations. Some 56% of adults under 30 feel favorably towards Israelis, compared to 78% of those 65 and older. On the other side, 61% of those in the under-30 category feel favorably towards the Palestinians, compared to a minority of 46% of those age 50 and up.

The poll also showed shows a wide disparity of opinions based on political party. Republicans and Republican-leaning respondents expressed much more positive views of the Israeli people (78% very or somewhat favorable) than of Palestinians (37%), and they view the Israeli government much more favorably (66%) than the Palestinian government (18%). Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents hold essentially equally positive views of Israelis (60% favorable) and Palestinians (64%).

Interestingly, young adults polled were more likely to acknowledge that they aren’t sure what the best outcome of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would be, compared with older Americans who largely maintain support for the traditional two-state solution.

Overall, 30 percent of respondents encompassing all backgrounds believe God gave the entire land to Israel, which is a figure similar to a 2020 Pew survey of American Jews.

The survey’s margin of error is plus or minus 1.5%.

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