Young Americans supportive of Palestinians over Israelis

Sympathy for the Palestinian cause is a dramatic shift in American sentiment.
By Ed Adamczyk  |  Updated Aug. 10, 2014 at 8:24 AM
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WASHINGTON, Aug. 8 (UPI) -- Americans under 35 are showing support of Palestinians in Gaza at the expense of Israelis, two recent surveys indicate.

The demographic group known as "millennials" has had its sentiments shaped by imagery from the conflict in Gaza, in which examples of urban destruction and hardship are plentiful due to Israeli missiles, with less available evidence of Israeli suffering in the five-week conflict.

The contrast has served to build sympathy for the Palestinian cause among young Americans, although the U.S. government regards Hamas -- the political and military leadership of Gaza -- as a terrorist organization. A recent CNN/ORC poll indicated that, while 60 percent of Americans' opinions of Israel were "very favorable" or "mostly favorable," only 12 percent of the under-35 group regarded Israel as "very favorable." Ten percent of millennials had a "very favorable" view of the Palestinian Authority, which governs Arab areas of the West Bank and has ties to the Hamas government; only one percent of Americans age 50 to 64 views the Palestinian Authority favorably.

A July poll by Pew Research Center indicated 29 percent of young Americans believe Israel is responsible for the Gaza conflict, compared to 21 percent who blame Hamas.

"A generation of global citizens is rising to power without the Israeli narrative embedded so firmly in its consciousness. The so-called Arab Spring and the United States' diminished influence abroad has created a new set of filters through which young people will consider the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a viewpoint that might be less inclined to favor the Jewish state," Ron Fournier wrote in the National Journal.

The diversion of sympathy from Israel and toward Arab states could be regarded as a portent of shifting loyalties and priorities as younger people assume positions of power in U.S. foreign policy.

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