Surprise! – Palestinians Still Unpopular
By Taylor Marvin
Gallup has a new poll out that, unsurprisingly, shows that Americans tend to sympathize much more with Israel than Palestine:
The fact that Americans overwhelmingly sympathize with Israelis rather than Palestinians shouldn’t be that unexpected. Americans have historically tended to include Israel in the imagined pioneer mythos that defines Americans’ self-assigned cultural identity, an association aided by America and Israel’s shared cultural and ethnic heritage. Palestinians, as part of an ethnic and religious group without a long history in the United States, are largely excluded from this cultural identity.
What’s really interesting about this survey is the fact that Americans have overwhelmingly identified with the winners in a fairly one-sided military conflict. Objectively, the life of the average Israeli is much, much better than the life of the average Palestinian. This doesn’t impart the moral upper ground for either side, but it is worth noting that Americans have chosen to sympathize with the group that overwhelmingly enjoys a richer and more secure life. What’s also interesting is that 9/11 seemingly sparked a long-term decrease in American indifference to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It’s expected that 9/11 would lead to a dramatic increase in American popular identification with Israel- unfortunately, the equation ‘terrorist=muslim=arab’ seems to be pretty set in a large portion of American’s minds, even though 9/11 was almost completely unconnected to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However, 9/11 didn’t seem to lead to an inverse drop in American sympathies for the Palestinians; Americans who supported the Palestinian cause in the 1990s didn’t change their mind after 9/11, but the increased superficial awareness of terrorism and the Arab world in general that popular media coverage the War on Terror sparked seems to have caused nearly all Americans to form a strong opinion about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Unfortunately for the Palestinians, this increased polarization seems to have almost entirely benefited Israel. It’s also worth wondering about this polarization’s implications for America’s historical role as mediator of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations- while the US’s claim to be an impartial party to the conflict was never very credible, the deep American popular sympathy for Israel and indifference to Palestinian grievances is becoming increasingly obvious.
Update: I changed the title of this post a day after it went up.