Americans’ backing for Israel stronger than before

It will, I hope, distress certain people to learn that Israel has emerged from the recent fighting in Lebanon with more support from Americans than it had a month ago.

According to a Pew Research Center poll:

Despite some concerns over the extent of Israel’s bombing campaign in Lebanon, the American public remains sympathetic with Israel’s position both in this conflict and more generally. In fact, the proportion favoring Israel’s side in the long-running conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has increased since before the current conflict started. Currently, 52% say they sympathize more with Israel’s position in that conflict, up from 44% a month ago.

By a margin of 40% to 8%, more Americans say the U.S. should publicly support, not publicly criticize, Israel over its response to the current situation in southern Lebanon ­ virtually unchanged from a CBS/New York Times survey taken in the early stages of the conflict. Fully 44% believe that Israel’s response to Hezbollah militants has been appropriate, and another 15% say that Israel has not gone far enough. There is a 23% minority, however, who believe that Israel has gone too far.

In large part, the public’s support for Israel is rooted in a sense that Hezbollah is responsible for initiating the current crisis, and that it is a group that Israel simply cannot negotiate with. Fully 42% of Americans say that Hezbollah is most responsible for the outbreak of the recent violence, another 5% cite Lebanon, and a few others point to Iran, the Palestinians, or Muslims in general. By comparison, just 12% say that Israel bears the most responsibility for the current conflict.

Somewhat disturbing for a Democrat like me is that support for Israel among Democrats– while strong– is less solid than among Republicans. Perhaps President Bush’s strong backing for Israel in the recent conflict had something to do with that.

At any rate it’s a relief that Hezbollah’s seemingly skillful PR operation during the war did nothing to sway American opinion. Of course we know whom some people will blame for all this unconscionable sympathy toward a democratic country fighting back against an attacking fascist militia.

Perhaps Hezbollah can arrange for its glorifier-in-chief George Galloway to make another speaking tour of the US, explaining to the American masses why Hezbollah’s struggle is their struggle. (He would in all seriousness make such an argument, wouldn’t he? And more than a few people would roar their approval.)

Any thoughts on the possible results of a similar poll in the UK or other countries?

(Hat tip: Judeosphere.)

Update: Perhaps Hezbollah’s failure to conquer the hearts of America is epitomized in this comic strip by the generally leftwing, anti-Bush, anti-Iraq war cartoonist Darrin Bell. (If you don’t believe me, check his archives.)