NEW YORK (JTA) — The difference between the proportion of Republicans and Democrats who sympathize with Israel over the Palestinians is the largest it has been in surveys dating to 1978, according to a new report.
While 74 percent of Republicans sympathize more with Israel than the Palestinians, the number is 33 percent for Democrats, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted Jan. 4-9 and published Thursday.
Eleven percent of Republicans sympathize with the Palestinians over Israel, and 15 percent sympathize with neither, both sides or did not express a view. Among Democrats, those numbers were 31 percent and 35 percent, respectively.
The findings represent the first time in surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center that Democrats were about as likely to sympathize with the Palestinians as with Israel. Among “liberal Democrats,” 38 percent of respondents sympathized more with the Palestinians while 26 percent sympathized more with Israel.
The proportion of Republicans sympathizing more with Israel has risen since 1978 while it has fallen for Democrats. In that year, 49 percent of Republicans and 44 percent of Democrats sympathized more with the Jewish state, according to data from the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations obtained by Pew.
A majority of Democrats, 60 percent, said there is a way for Israel and a Palestinian state to coexist peacefully, while less than half of Republicans, 44 percent, believed that to be possible, the new Pew survey found.
A higher proportion of Republican and Republican-leaning respondents viewed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu favorably, 50 percent, than did their Democratic and Democratic-leaning counterparts, 21 percent.
Josefin Dolsten is a former news fellow at the Forward, writing about politics and culture, and editing the Sisterhood blog. She received an MA in Jewish Studies and Comparative Religion from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a BA in Government from Cornell University. Follow her on Twitter at @josefindolsten.