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American public increasingly sympathetic towards Israel

The extent to which Americans sympathize more with Israelis than with Palestinians has reached its all-time high, according to a new Gallup poll. The survey found that the sympathies of 64 percent of Americans reside with Israelis, compared to only 12 percent for the Palestinians.

The 64 percent figure matched the previous record high from 1991, during the first Gulf War. At that time, though, only 7 percent of Americans sympathized more with the Palestinians.

Naturally, Republicans (78 percent) were much more likely to sympathize with Israel than Democrats (55 percent), according to the poll. Palestinians receive the highest sympathy from Democrats, liberals, and postgraduates. But even among these groups, support tops off at 24 percent.

Sympathy for Israel has trended upwards, towards its 1991 level, since 9/11. During that period, it increased by four points among Democratis and 18 points among Republicans.

The recent uptick is far less dramatic, and I can’t tell whether the 3 point rise in pro-Israel sentiment since this time in 2012 is statistically significant. But it’s not implausible to believe that Americans are increasingly concerned about developments in the Middle East — in Libya and Iran, for example — and increasingly sympathetic towards Israelis because they reside in such a bad neighborhood.

The 5 point downtick in sympathy for the Palestinians might be explained in similar terms. Perhaps the general image of Arab militants has taken a well-deserved hit during the past 12 months.

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