October 26, 2001
In the most comprehensive survey of American attitudes towards Israel
conducted since the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington on
September 11, nearly three quarters of those surveyed expressed strong
support for Israel and its struggle against terrorism.
The Jerusalem Post poll, co-sponsored by The Chicago Sun-Times, was
conducted among 1,000 US citizens last week by Mclaughlin & Associates. The
poll’s margin of error was 3%.
When asked whether the United States should continue to support Israel, nearly
three-fourths (73%) of Americans said yes, 15% said no, and 12% were either
undecided or refused to answer.
The poll was conducted prior to recent State Department demands that
Israel “immediately” withdraw its military forces from Palestinian controlled
The Jerusalem Post / Chicago Sun-Times poll found that, overall, Americans
seem to have very positive attitudes towards Israel. Fully 56% view Israel
favorably, including 24% who view Israel very favorably.
Conversely, only 19% view Israel unfavorably and only 6% view Israel
very unfavorably. The remaining 24% of respondents either had no opinion or
refused to answer.
Just as powerfully, the poll found that American sentiment toward Yasser
Arafat was nearly as negative as opinions of Israel were positive. Nearly two
thirds (62%) of Americans have an unfavorable opinion of the PLO chairman,
with more than two thirds of them (40%) viewing him very unfavorably. Only
13% view Arafat favorably and just 2% view him very favorably. An additional
22% of respondents had no opinion or refused to answer.
“Not only is there a great deal of negative sentiment toward Arafat, the
intensity of dislike for him is quite profound,” said Jon Mclaughlin, president of
Mclaughlin & Associates, one of America’s most influential political polling
One of the reasons for that dislike may be scepticism of Arab intentions toward
Israel. When asked whether they believe that the Arab World “sincerely accepts
Israel’s right to exist” or whether they believe the Arab World “seeks the
eventual destruction of Israel,” nearly two thirds of Americans (62%) believe
that the Arabs seek Israel’s destruction and only 15% of Americans think the
Arab world sincerely accepts Israel’s right to exist.
Interestingly, the percent of Israelis who believe that the Arab world is
prepared to finally except Israel’s existence is consistently higher than the
percent of Americans who do.