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New study: Young Americans view Israelis less favorably than older generation

The Pew Research Center study also shows little recognition of — or support for — the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement

A new survey shows that adults under 30 are more inclined than older Americans to view Israelis unfavorably and Palestinians favorably.

The Pew Research Center report, released Thursday, also indicates scant support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which aims to force an end to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.

Findings show that Americans overall view the Israeli people and government more favorably than the Palestinian people and government, though the survey of 10,000 respondents of various religious backgrounds did not define the term “Palestinian government.” 

While 67% of respondents view the Israelis favorably, 52% view Palestinians favorably. And 48% hold a positive view of the Israeli government, compared to 28% who feel that way about the Palestinian government. 

But the survey also show younger Americans feel less warmly toward Israel and Israelis than older generations. 

  • 56% of adults under 30, compared to 78% of those 65 and older, feel favorably toward the Israelis. 
  • A majority of those 18 to 29 — 61% — feel favorably toward the Palestinians, compared to less than half  — 46% — of those 50 and older.
  • Older Americans are more inclined than their younger counterparts to say that the best possible outcome of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would be a two-state solution. Adults under 30 are more likely than their elders to say they are unsure what the best outcome would be.

The survey also found little familiarity with, and support for, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement across political parties and religious groups. 

  • A large majority of respondents — 84% — say they have heard “not much” or “nothing at all” about the BDS movement. 
  • 5% of respondents support BDS at least somewhat, 3% neither support nor oppose it and 6% are opposed. 
  • 13% of atheists express support for BDS the most of any age groups, political party or other religious groups. White Evangelical Protestants express the least — 1%. 
  • More Republicans and Republican-leaning independents than Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents — 12% versus 2% — oppose BDS. 

A Pew survey from May of 2021 found that, of the slim majority of American Jews who have heard about the BDS movement, the vast majority say they oppose it.

Besides age, political party is also a factor in public opinion on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. While Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents hold about equally positive views of Israelis and Palestinians — 60% favorable versus 64% — Republicans and Republican-leaning independents view the Israelis much more positively than Palestinians — 78% versus 37%. 

Among both Republicans and Democrats, feelings toward the Israeli and Palestinian governments and Palestinians have warmed slightly since 2019, while views of the Israelis have held steady.

The survey was conducted from March 7 to 13 and had 10,441 participants and a margin of error of plus or minus 1.5%.

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