How Younger Americans' Visions Shifted Towards the Palestinian–Israeli Conflict

Murad Jandali | 2 years ago




A new American opinion poll revealed an increase in the number of Americans who support the Palestinian cause, especially within the Democratic Party (38% of Democrats sympathize with the Palestinians).

The poll noted that "in 2001, when Gallup polled Americans about what is happening within the Palestinian territories, only 16% of those who sympathized with the Palestinians, but two decades later, the facts became clear and the percentage of Americans most sympathetic to the Palestinians rose to 25%."

It also indicated that there is a significant shift in the visions of younger Americans towards the Palestinian cause and the factors that led to that, and concluded that the younger generation has better perceptions and impressions about the cause.

The poll received wide reaction among Americans through platforms, as the tweeters emphasized that social media provided a better definition of the cause and a greater opportunity to clarify what is happening.


Deep Shift

The FiveThirtyEight website, which specializes in data analysis and opinion polls, and is affiliated with ABC News, issued a report on September 22, 2022, in which it dealt with statistics on American society and its reaction with the Palestinian cause in separate periods.

The report also emphasized that at the level of the Democratic and Republican parties, there was not much division in opinions two decades ago, as the percentage of those who sympathized with the Palestinians from the Democratic Party was only 18%, noting that the percentage of Democrats supporting Palestine has doubled today and has become 39%.

The report concluded that there is a discrepancy in viewpoints between the younger and older generations. The younger generation has better perceptions and impressions of the Palestinian cause at the present time.

According to the report, several factors have combined during the past years in particular, and led to this deep shift in Americans' views.

It indicated that social media played a major role in this shift after it changed the way everyone looks at events and how they receive news.

The report noted that the "Israeli aggression on Gaza in 2014 was the first aggression in the era of the spread of social media platforms, as crimes and attacks were documented through the platforms directly, and followers from all over the world received them without an intermediary."

According to the report, the number of casualties in events such as the aggression on Gaza in May 2014 affected the way the world saw the reality of what was happening in Palestine, as the self-defense narrative presented by the IDF was not widely accepted.

On the other hand, human rights activist Tallie Ben Daniel, CEO of a Jewish anti-Israel organization, told FiveThirtyEight that the proliferation of human rights movements around the world has played a major role in introducing young people to the issue.

Ben Daniel herself was introduced to the Palestinian cause for the first time through a poster on the University of California, USA campus, on which was written Palestine is Free, which prompted her to research the matter and find out its roots.

The report also indicated that former US President Donald Trump's extremist stance in support of "Israel" gradually changed the Americans' view of the Palestinians.


Widespread Reaction

The FiveThirtyEight report on the change in Americans' handling of the Palestinian cause received wide reactions across American platforms.

Tweeters also praised the role of human rights movements and activists who are trying to publicize the Palestinian cause and continuously publish about it to spread awareness among followers on social media platforms.

Palestinian writer Khalil Jahshan tweeted, saying that "the results of the poll showed that young people in America and the countries of the world began to understand matters according to their origins and to move away from bias and blind support for Israel."

The American writer and academic of Palestinian origin, Khaled Elgindy, said, "this is related to a profound shift in the attitudes of the American public opinion towards the Arab–Israeli conflict."

"The credit for this shift goes back to the international human rights movements that have spared no effort in criticizing the Zionist policy," he noted.

Another tweeter explained that the escalation of positive views towards the Palestinians among American youth is a wonderful thing, noting that positive American views towards the Zionists are still very high.

On its part, Tikun Olam, a blog providing analysis on Israeli affairs, noted in a tweet that for the first time in history, American youth support Palestinians more than Israelis, adding that this dramatic shift does not appear to be in the Israeli interest.

Activist CJ Werleman, a columnist for the Byline Times, noted in a tweet that more Democrats now support the Palestinian cause, meaning the Israeli days as an occupation regime are numbered.

It is noteworthy that many events were held recently in America against the policies of the Israeli Occupation, the most prominent of which were demonstrations in front of the headquarters of Amazon and Google to denounce the participation of the two companies in the Nimbus artificial intelligence project that the occupation is working on.


Different Viewpoints

According to a Pew Research Center survey conducted between March 7-13 and the results of which were released on May 26, 61% of American youth (18-29 years old) have a positive view of the Palestinian population of older Americans (over 65 years of age), this percentage is more common among Democrats.

The shift in American attitudes was not limited to the aforementioned age group but extended to party bases as a whole and to all ages. 64% of the Democratic Party responded that they have a positive view of the Palestinians, while 60% of the Democratic Party responded that they have a positive view of the Israelis.

This is a major shift in the American position, particularly the popular one, during the past few years, and gives an indication that this shift is accelerating towards a more balanced vision than it was during the past decades when it was characterized by a sweeping bias towards supporting "Israel."

Regarding the interpretation of this division between the American generations in views on Israel, the center explained that different generations have different views of Israel, pointing out that this is because they grew up politically during different periods of Israeli history.

"Older Americans grew up at the height of the Arab–Israeli conflict when Israel was seen as the beleaguered and weak underdog, and the 1967 and 1973 wars shaped their perceptions of Israel," it added.

"Whereas younger Americans grew up at a time of rising Israeli-Palestinian tensions, after the collapse of the Oslo peace process and the outbreak of the Second Intifada, and knew only right-wing Israeli governments, often led by Netanyahu," it said.

"Therefore, in the eyes of younger Americans, Israel is a strong and occupying military power, and the Palestinians are the weakest and most vulnerable side," the center explained.

Surveys show that younger Americans are more liberal than older Americans. In addition, the continuing Israeli Occupation's violation of basic liberal values in the West Bank has made Democrats criticize "Israel" more than Republicans.

Polls also show that younger Americans are less religious than older Americans, as Religiosity strongly influences attitudes toward "Israel," so religious Americans are more pro-Israel (evangelicals are the most supportive of "Israel").

In addition to the above, the reports of New York-based Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International on the designation of "Israel" as an apartheid state constituted a cornerstone in striking sympathy with "Israel" in the West.

As for the future of the US–Israeli relations after all these polls and shifts, once such views of "Israel" are formed are resistant to change, the American public is likely to become more critical of Israel and more sympathetic to the Palestinians, and US support for "Israel" will certainly become less.