The latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll is primarily focused on U.S. domestic politics, but contains some interesting numbers pertaining to Israel/Palestine. The full poll results are available online (PDF), and here is a screenshot of the relevant findings for Israel and how Americans think the Obama administration should engage in the Middle East:
The first interesting finding is that 55% of Americans think the U.S. government should treat Israel and the Palestinians “the same” rather than favoring one over the other. Only 31% of respondents answered the U.S. should favor Israel. The “special relationship” suddenly doesn’t look so special.
The bigger surprise is when the poll asks “In the Middle East situation, are your sympathies more with the Israelis or more with the Palestinians?” and only 45% say they sympathize more with Israel. This is down from a high water mark of 61% just two and half years ago. The percentage of Americans sympathizing more with Israel hasn’t been this low in nearly 25 years since the height of the first intifada in April, 1989 when it stood at 36%.
What accounts for the drop? It’s impossible to tell for sure. The poll was taken February 21-24 which followed high profile drama surrounding the Israel lobby and Hagel nomination, mainstream headlines about Israeli soldiers’ photos on Instagram and the publicity surge accompanying 5 Broken Cameras and The Gatekeepers at the Oscars. Still, that doesn’t seem to explain a 15 point drop. More than anything it seems to reflect the general trend we follow here on the site that public perception towards Israel is shifting and the ongoing occupation is eroding American support for the country.