In recent years, U.S. public opinion has become modestly more positive toward both sides in the Israel-Arab conflict, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.
Overall, Americans continue to express more positive feelings toward the Israeli people than toward the residents of the Palestinian Authority – and to rate the Israeli government more favorably than the Palestinian Authority leadership.
But these gaps are much larger among older Americans than among younger ones. Indeed, U.S. adults under 30 view the Palestinian Authority population at least as warmly (61% very or somewhat favorable) as the Israeli people (56%) and rate the Palestinian Authority's leadership as favorably (35%) as the Israeli government (34%).
The new survey also shows that public opinion varies considerably on these questions by political party. Republicans and those who lean toward the Republican Party express much more positive views of the Israeli people (78% very or somewhat favorable) than of the Palestinian Authority population (37%), and they view the Israeli government far more favorably (66%) than the Palestinian Authority (18%).
By contrast, Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents hold slightly more positive views of Palestinian Authority residents (64%) than the Israeli people (60% favorable) and rate Israel’s government slightly below the Palestinian Authority (34% and 37%, respectively).
Among both Republicans and Democrats, feelings toward the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian Authority population have warmed slightly since 2019, while views of the Israeli people have held steady.
Nearly three-quarters of a century after the founding of the modern state of Israel, the survey finds no clear consensus among Americans about the best possible outcome of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
About one-third of the public says splitting the land into two countries – a version of the “two-state solution” long backed by U.S. diplomacy – would be best (35%). But roughly a quarter (27%) would prefer to see a single state emerge, in most cases with a government comprised jointly of Israelis and Arabs. And more than a third of U.S. adults (37%) say they are not sure what is the best outcome.
Age is a factor in these opinions: Older Americans are more inclined than younger ones to say that a two-state solution would be the best possible outcome of the conflict, while adults under 30 are more likely than their elders to say they aren’t sure what’s best.
Religious affiliation also matters: White evangelical Protestants are much more likely than members of any other major Christian tradition to say the best outcome would be a single state with an Israeli government; 28% say this, compared with 6% each of Catholics, white non-evangelical Protestants and black Protestants.
Perhaps relatedly, white evangelicals also are the group most likely to say God gave the land that is now Israel to the Jewish people. Fully 70% of white evangelicals take that position, more than twice the share of U.S. Jews who answered a similar (but not identical) question in a 2020 survey by saying God gave the land of Israel to the Jewish people (32%).
The new survey also asked the U.S. public about the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. Relatively few Americans know about this boycott effort; 84% say they have heard “not much” or “nothing at all” about it. Just 5% of U.S. adults have heard at least “some” about BDS and express support for it, including 2% who strongly support it.
The survey was conducted among Americans of all religious backgrounds, including Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus, but it did not obtain enough respondents from non-Christian religious groups to report separately on their responses. U.S. Jews’ views toward Israel were explored in depth in Pew Research Center’s report “Jewish Americans in 2020” (though that survey did not include a question about the best possible outcome of the conflict).
These are among the key findings from the new report, which is based on a survey of 10,441 U.S. adults conducted from March 7-13, 2022. The margin of sampling error for the full sample is plus or minus 1.5 percentage points.