Israel losing support in US due to Gaza violence

Israel losing support in US due to Gaza violence

Smoke billows during Israeli bombardment on Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip. Apr. 03, 2024 (File/AFP)
Smoke billows during Israeli bombardment on Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip. Apr. 03, 2024 (File/AFP)
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Israel’s excessive violence against Palestinian targets in Gaza is steadily undermining the support it has long enjoyed among the American public, especially among young people, who generally rely more heavily on social media for their news and information than the largely biased US media.

Separate surveys by the Pew Research Center and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research show this trending shift away from supporting Israel. Israel still enjoys significant support in America, but the results of these surveys reflect a significant generational divide, with younger Americans questioning Israel’s actions while older Americans continue to embrace blind loyalty to the nation founded on Palestinian lands in 1948.

Although the mainstream media depicts the conflict as being the result of the violent assault by Hamas militants on Oct. 7, calling it terrorism, social media videos and reporting frames this attack as a response to Israel’s long history of anti-Palestinian violence.

Claims regarding the Oct. 7 violence that were reported without verification by the mainstream media have been challenged on social media, with many people questioning the allegations of rapes and horrific violence against babies originally made by pro-Israel military sources.

Claims regarding Oct. 7 that were reported without verification by the mainstream media have been challenged on social media

Ray Hanania

Younger Americans are also seeing videos of heavily armed Israeli soldiers laughing and celebrating as they shoot and kill unarmed Palestinian civilians as they walk on destroyed Gazan roads. One video, which has been widely viewed and shared on TikTok and X, shows four unarmed Palestinians in civilian clothing walking on a destroyed major road before being blown up by Israeli weaponry. One of the four initially survives but is then quickly killed in a second explosion.

Videos posted online also show Israeli soldiers beating and brutalizing women and children and razing mosques, hospitals, schools, homes and businesses in Gaza. The number of fatalities has risen to about 31,000, but many believe the real figure to be even higher, as Israel prohibits foreign journalists from entering Gaza to cover the conflict. Meanwhile, the Committee to Protect Journalists reports that 103 media workers have been killed in Israeli strikes.

Israel has always enjoyed unquestioning political support from American governments. US support also includes hundreds of billions of dollars in funds, nearly unrestricted access to American weaponry and protection at the UN Security Council. Since Oct. 7, Washington has vetoed three resolutions calling for a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza. It finally abstained on a fourth resolution last month in the face of a growing anti-President Joe Biden voter movement called #AbandonBiden.

The erosion of support among young Americans is one reason, maybe the primary reason, Israel’s political supporters introduced and last month passed legislation in Congress that threatens to ban TikTok. The proposed law faces a tougher fight in the Senate. It must pass through the upper house and be signed off by Biden before it becomes law.

America has been bombarded by one-sided pro-Israel messaging and public relations spin ever since Israel’s founding. Such messages have dominated Hollywood movies, the publishing industry and the mainstream news media, where pro-Israel writers significantly outnumber pro-Palestinian journalists.

But social media is having an impact thanks to the gut-wrenching images of Israelis killing Palestinian civilians in Gaza.

Not surprisingly, attitudes among younger Americans are impacted by social media and are changing, showing growing support for Palestinian rights and less support for Israel. That erosion is less obvious among older Americans, surveys show.

America has been bombarded by one-sided pro-Israel messaging and public relations spin ever since Israel’s founding

Ray Hanania

The Brookings Institution in November cited a pre-Oct. 7 Pew survey, which showed the significance of the generation gap in America in terms of attitude toward Israel. That poll showed 55 percent of Americans held a favorable view of Israel, while 41 percent had an unfavorable view. More significantly, only 41 percent of Americans aged 18 to 29 had a favorable view, compared to 69 percent of over-65s.

Polling released this week by Pew further highlights that shift, with younger Americans generally opposed to military aid to Israel. Only 16 percent of adults under 30 favor the US providing military aid to Israel to help in its war on Gaza, compared with 56 percent of those aged 65 and older.

The poll also shows that 34 percent of younger Americans say Hamas’ reasons for fighting Israel are valid, while 30 percent say they are not. The remaining 35 percent say they are unsure — a significant crack in Israel’s domination of the American public.

Older Americans are less likely to see Hamas’ reasons for fighting as valid and far more likely to see them as not valid, the Pew survey shows. For example, nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of 65-plus Americans say Hamas’ reasons are not valid.

The Pew research reflects similar findings by others. An AP-NORC center poll released in February showed that half of American adults believe Israel has “gone too far” in Gaza.

The shift from the beginning of Israel’s war in 2023 to early 2024 is also reflected among Republicans. By late January, 33 percent of Republicans said Israel had gone too far, up from only 18 percent. Similar shifts took place among independents, Democrats and all US adults, according to the AP-NORC poll.

A change in Americans’ view on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would result in more pressure on Tel Aviv to accept genuine peace with the Palestinians. But to make this happen, people throughout the world will have to do a better job of countering the pro-Israel propaganda in America.

It will not be easy to undo the brainwashing Americans have long experienced at the hands of the pro-Israel lobby, but it is necessary to achieve a genuine and lasting solution to the conflict.

  • Ray Hanania is an award-winning former Chicago City Hall political reporter and columnist. He can be reached on his personal website at X: @RayHanania
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