A new survey by The Associated Press and NORC Center for Public Affairs Research reveals that half of Americans think Israel has gone too far in its military response to the recent conflict in Gaza, while less than a third say it has been about right.
The poll, conducted from Jan. 25 to Jan. 29, 2024, among 1,055 adults, has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points. It shows a significant shift in public opinion since November, when a similar survey found that 40 percent of Americans said Israel had gone too far, 38 percent said it had been about right, and 18 percent said it had not gone far enough.
The change in perception comes after a devastating war in October 2023, which killed more than 25,000 Palestinians, including 15,000 children, and 1200 Israelis, according to official sources. The war also caused widespread destruction of homes, infrastructure, and health facilities in Gaza, leaving more than 2 million people displaced and in need of humanitarian aid.
The United States, Israel’s closest ally, played a key role in brokering a ceasefire between the two sides, but also faced criticism for its continued military and diplomatic support for Israel. President Joe Biden reaffirmed his commitment to Israel’s security and right to self-defense, but also expressed concern over the civilian casualties and the humanitarian situation in Gaza. He pledged to help rebuild Gaza and to revive the stalled peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.
The AP-NORC poll found that Americans are divided along partisan lines on their views of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Democrats are more likely than Republicans to say Israel has gone too far in its response (63 percent vs. 34 percent), while Republicans are more likely than Democrats to say Israel has not gone far enough (24 percent vs. 9 percent). Independents are more evenly split, with 48 percent saying Israel has gone too far, 31 percent saying it has been about right, and 16 percent saying it has not gone far enough.
The poll also found that Americans have mixed feelings about the role of the U.S. in the Middle East. About half of Americans (49 percent) say the U.S. should take a more active role in resolving the conflicts in the region, while 45 percent say the U.S. should be less involved. Democrats are more likely than Republicans to favor a more active role (57 percent vs. 41 percent), while Republicans are more likely than Democrats to favor a less involved role (51 percent vs. 39 percent).
The survey also asked Americans about their general attitudes toward Israel and the Palestinians. About four in 10 Americans (41 percent) say they have a favorable opinion of Israel, while 29 percent say they have an unfavorable opinion. About two in 10 Americans (21 percent) say they have a favorable opinion of the Palestinians, while 39 percent say they have an unfavorable opinion. The rest say they have no opinion or have not heard of them.
The poll suggests that Americans are more sympathetic to Israel than to the Palestinians, but also more critical of Israel’s actions in Gaza than they were a few months ago. The poll reflects the complexity and volatility of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which has defied decades of diplomatic efforts and remains a source of instability and violence in the region.