Poll: Most Americans Support Israel, Say BDS Movement Anti-Semitic

Almost 50 percent say Dems not doing enough to combat anti-Semitism in party

Credit: Flickr user Takver
June 6, 2019

The Hudson Institute released new polling data this week showing most Americans favor a close relationship with Israel and believe the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel is anti-Semitic.

Pollster John McLaughlin discussed the survey's findings at an event on Tuesday. The polling sample consisted of 1,000 likely 2020 general election voters.

Fifty-one percent of those surveyed held a favorable opinion of Israel, while only 21 percent held an unfavorable opinion. An even greater number—75 percent—agreed it is in America's interest to have Israel as its closest ally in the Middle East.

Almost 60 percent said anti-Semitism is happening more frequently today than 15 years ago, but the blame was divided: Thirty-seven percent attributed anti-Semitism in the United States to Muslim extremists, 28 percent to right-wing extremists, and 22 percent to left-wing extremists. Republicans were more likely to blame Muslim extremists, while a plurality of Democrats pointed to right-wing extremists.

The Anti-Defamation League reported last month that the "U.S. Jewish community experienced near-historic levels of anti-Semitism in 2018, including a doubling of anti-Semitic assaults and the single deadliest attack against the Jewish community in American history." The number of attacks against Jews and Jewish institutions in 2018 made it "the third-highest year on record since ADL started tracking such data in the 1970s."

A majority of those surveyed considered support for the BDS movement anti-Semitic, and a plurality said the United States should support Israel in opposing the BDS movement.

Last month, the German parliament passed a resolution condemning the movement, comparing it to Nazi-era campaigns against Jewish businesses. A report from earlier this year found links between terrorist organizations and NGOs promoting the BDS movement.

"The [BDS] campaign involves a network of non-governmental organizations, a number of which have close ties to designated terrorist organizations, most prominently Hamas and [the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine]," according to the report. "Terrorist organizations see the ‘civilian' struggle against Israel—demonstrations, marches, fundraising, political lobbying, and the so-called ‘peace' flotillas—as a complementary effort of their armed attacks against the state of Israel."

The survey also asked about Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) and anti-Semitism within the Democratic Party. Over 80 percent had heard of Omar, with 40 percent holding an unfavorable opinion and 21 percent having a favorable view of the Minnesota congresswoman. A majority of Republicans and a plurality of independents had a negative view of Omar. Among Democrats, 34 percent liked Omar, while 21 percent were unfavorable toward her.

Omar has created repeated headaches for House Democratic leadership. In March, House Democratic leaders scrambled to write a resolution condemning various forms of hate after Omar made anti-Semitic comments at an event in Washington, D.C., where she said she wanted "to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country."

Omar did not apologize for her comments, and in fact defended her use of the anti-Semitic dual-loyalty canard.

One month prior to that incident, Omar had to apologize for anti-Semitic tweets, one which accused AIPAC of paying politicians to be pro-Israel. She has also had to distance herself from a tweet in which she accused Israel of hypnotizing the world and performing evil acts.

Over 60 percent said it is not Islamophobic to criticize Omar for her views on Israel.

Republicans and Democrats also split over the question of whether the Democratic Party is doing enough to combat anti-Semitism in its ranks. Overall, 48 percent said Democrats are not doing enough, while 22 percent said Democrats are adequately addressing anti-Semitism. Thirty-eight percent of Democrats said the party is doing enough while 28 percent of Democrats disagreed. Two-thirds of Republicans said Democrats are not doing enough to take on anti-Semitism.

The survey also asked about the Holocaust, attitudes toward Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, and a controversial New York Times cartoon.

A majority of Republicans and Democrats agreed that a cartoon published by the New York Times last month showing President Donald Trump guiding Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on a leash was anti-Semitic. Majorities in both parties also agreed that politicians should be denounced for appearing with Farrakhan, an anti-Semite who has compared Jews to "termites" and praised Omar for her tweets about AIPAC.

As for the Holocaust, 80 percent said it was true that the Nazi regime "targeted and exterminated six million European Jews." McLaughlin noted a slight drop-off among younger voters, with about 70 percent of those under 30 acknowledging the genocide of six million Jews as fact.

A survey commissioned by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany last year found over 40 percent of millennials "believe that substantially less than six million Jews were killed (two million or fewer) during the Holocaust."