Millennials Less Sympathetic to Israel Than Older Americans


Israel Defense Forces

It's another destructive, deadly day in Gaza. Twenty-two days into the current iteration of this conflict, despite the fact that Israel and the U.S. are snapping at each other, Israel remains the sympathetic party in the eyes of many Americans. But millennials are drifting away from that norm.

The latest Pew Research Center poll, which was published yesterday, shows that Americans aged 18 to 29 are pretty divided. When asked about "Israel's response to the conflict with Hamas," 31 percent said it's been "about right." Nearly as many, 29 percent, said that it's "gone too far." Tellingly, only 7 percent of young Americans believe it has "not gone far enough."

By contrast, in the older age demographics (50-64 and 64+) 16 and 18 percent, respectively, believe that Israel's use of force hasn't gone far enough. Generation Xers are a bit closer to millennials' views in some respects; 34 percent say Israel's response has been about right, while 30 percent say it's over the top. But again, 16 percent believe Israel's military action should be more aggressive.

In fact, with the exception of self-described "liberal" Democrats, 44 percent of whom say the Jewish state has gone too far while only 7 percent say it's not enough, every other demographic polled – whether political independents or Republicans; college graduates or high school dropouts; blacks, whites, or Hispanics; men or women – have double digit support for Israel ramping up its campaign against Hamas.

Notably, general support for Israel in its grappling with Palestine has been eroding in the last few years, though a hawkish minority has grown: In January 2009, the percent of Americans willing to say that Israel's tactics are "about right" has dropped 15 percentage points from 50 to 35, while those who believe it should go further has nearly doubled from 7 percent to 15 percent.

Although it's outside of the scope of Pew's research at hand, it's worth noting that the numbers fit into a trend that Reason-Rupe's own polls have been shedding light on: Millennials are politically unclaimed, but see Democrats as the less bad option on some issues such as foreign policy.

Likewise, the drop in general support may reflect what Reason's Jesse Walker noted last week: the American public doesn't have much of a stomach for war