Majority of Americans Consider Israel an Ally, Yet Question Alignment with U.S. Values, According to AP-NORC Survey

by Ryan Lee
American-Israeli Relations

As U.S. President Joe Biden is set to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York this week, recent survey data reveals that Americans predominantly see Israel as an ally or partner. However, there is significant skepticism about whether Netanyahu’s right-wing government is in harmony with American values.

The findings are part of a study conducted by The Big Big News-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and come amid escalating tensions between the Biden administration and Israel. These strains have arisen from Netanyahu’s plans to overhaul the judiciary—a proposal that has led to widespread demonstrations in Israel’s major cities—as well as ongoing discord over policies related to Iran and the Palestinians, and statements from Netanyahu’s political associates that have vexed U.S. leaders.

In spite of these tensions, both Biden, who has expressed subtle yet clear objections to the judicial reform plan, and Netanyahu are anticipated to display a robust alliance, with the U.S. maintaining its commitment to Israel’s security.

In the meeting, Biden is also expected to stress the U.S. commitment to broadening the scope of the Abraham Accords, initiated during the Trump administration, which normalized relations between Israel and multiple Arab nations. The aim is to include Saudi Arabia, although there is limited evidence to suggest that a breakthrough is imminent.

The poll indicated that while Americans overwhelmingly regard Israel as more of an ally than an enemy, there remains division on the issue of whether the United States and Israel have mutual interests and values. Around 40% of Americans see Israel as a collaborator that does not necessarily align with U.S. values, whereas approximately 30% believe Israel is an ally that shares U.S. interests. A partisan divide exists, with 44% of Republicans versus 25% of Democrats considering Israel an ally with shared values. Roughly 20% of Americans perceive Israel as a competitor or even an adversary.

The United States provides Israel with upwards of $3 billion annually in military and other aid, a close relationship that has persisted for decades despite intermittent policy disagreements, especially concerning Iran and the Palestinians.

A total of 61% of Americans disapprove of Biden’s approach to the Israeli-Palestinian issue, a disapproval rate that is slightly higher than his overall rating. The American populace appears divided on whether the U.S. stance towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should change: 44% believe the current level of support is appropriate, while 27% think it’s excessive and 23% argue it’s insufficient.

During their forthcoming meeting, Biden is slated to confirm the United States’ unwavering support for Israel’s security amid the volatile conditions in the Middle East. Concurrently, the U.S. administration plans to address one of Netanyahu’s significant requests—Israel’s inclusion in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program, which would permit Israeli nationals to enter the U.S. temporarily without a visa.

U.S. legislation mandates that all Americans, including those of Palestinian descent, must receive equivalent treatment to qualify for the program. Israel has until the end of September to demonstrate compliance, failing which it would have to reapply for the program in the next fiscal year, beginning October 1.

In relation to the Palestinian issue, about two-thirds of Americans claim a neutral stance, as the AP-NORC poll revealed—37% neither sympathize with Israel nor the Palestinians, and 29% express equal sympathy for both parties.

The survey, which engaged 1,165 adult participants, was executed from August 10 to 14. It utilized a sample from NORC’s AmeriSpeak Panel, purposed to represent the American population. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.8 percentage points for all respondents.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about American-Israeli Relations

What is the main takeaway from the AP-NORC poll regarding American views on Israel?

The main takeaway from the AP-NORC poll is that while most Americans consider Israel an ally or partner, there is significant skepticism about whether Israel’s government aligns with U.S. values.

Why are tensions rising between the Biden administration and Israel?

Tensions have been escalating due to various factors, including Netanyahu’s proposed judicial overhaul, disagreements over how to handle Iran and the Palestinian issue, and comments from Netanyahu’s political allies that have irked U.S. officials.

What is the Abraham Accords, and why is it mentioned in the article?

The Abraham Accords were initiated during the Trump administration and aimed to normalize relations between Israel and multiple Arab countries. President Biden is emphasizing the U.S. commitment to expand these accords to include Saudi Arabia, although there is no clear sign of an imminent breakthrough.

How does the poll reflect partisan differences in American views on Israel?

The poll shows a significant partisan divide, with more Republicans considering Israel an ally with shared values compared to Democrats. Republicans are generally more supportive of Israel, while Democrats have a more varied perspective.

What is the U.S. Visa Waiver Program, and why is it relevant to the meeting between Biden and Netanyahu?

The U.S. Visa Waiver Program allows certain countries’ nationals to enter the U.S. temporarily without a visa. Netanyahu has requested Israel’s inclusion in this program, and the U.S. is evaluating Israel’s compliance with the program’s requirements.

How do Americans view the Israeli-Palestinian conflict according to the poll?

The poll reveals that a majority of Americans express neutrality in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Roughly equal proportions of respondents sympathize with neither side or express equal sympathy for both Israel and the Palestinians.

When and how was the survey conducted?

The survey was conducted from August 10 to 14 and engaged 1,165 adult participants. It utilized a sample from NORC’s AmeriSpeak Panel, designed to represent the American population. The margin of error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.

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SurveyNerd23 September 19, 2023 - 12:25 pm

Survey done in August, 1,165 peeps, some thinkin’ ’bout error margins probly.

OpinionatedGirl September 19, 2023 - 12:51 pm

Dems ‘n Repubs see Israel diff, what a surprise _xD83D__xDE12_

Reader123 September 19, 2023 - 2:12 pm

wow, lotsa stuff ’bout America ‘n Israel. dey friends or foes? _xD83E__xDD14_

Wanderlust7 September 19, 2023 - 3:22 pm

U.S. Visa thing, Israel wanna visit U.S., rules ‘n deadlines, tricky business.

NewsJunkie45 September 19, 2023 - 6:32 pm

Biden ‘n Netanyahu meetin’ in NY, bit of friction dere. Issues wit’ courts ‘n Iran, not easy.

PeaceMaker September 20, 2023 - 1:21 am

People stay neutral ’bout Israel-Palestine, not takin’ sides much.

InfoGeek88 September 20, 2023 - 2:23 am

Abraham Accords, Trump’s legacy, still in play, Saudi Arabia next maybe?


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