WHO'S TO BLAME?

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Fault-finding is very different from feeling sympathetic. American sympathies tend to lie much more with the Israelis than with the Palestinians. Americans blame Palestinians more than Israelis, though to a lesser degree. In an April 2002 Time/CNN/Harris Interactive poll, 46 percent of Americans say the Palestinians are more responsible for violence in the Middle East; 20 percent think Israel is more responsible. According to Gallup, in March 2002, 14 percent of Americans say they sympathize most with the Palestinian Arabs, while 43 percent say their sympathies lie primarily with the Israelis. The latter figure is nonetheless down significantly from an early February 2002 high of 55 percent. (The greatest compassion for the Israelis was in 1991, during the Gulf War, when 64 percent of Americans said their sympathies lay primarily with them, compared with 7 percent empathizing with the Palestinians.) Sympathy also spiked after Sept. 11. An October 2001 poll for the Pew Research Center found 47 percent sympathizing with Israelis and 10 percent with Palestinians.

According to an October 2001 Pewoll, men are more likely than women to sympathize with Israel (50 percent versus 44 percent). Also more inclined to side with Israel are registered Republicans, Southerners, voters and white evangelical Christians. Age plays a major role in determining opinion. People ages 50 to 64, born during World War II and the immediate postwar era, are most inclined to sympathize with Israel (55 percent), while seniors are least disposed to do so (40 percent). Young people (ages 18 to 29) are most likely to feel for the Palestinians: 16 percent sympathize with that side versus 6 percent of people ages 50 to 64. Better educated Americans also tend to sympathize with Palestine: 16 percent of college grads say they do so, versus 4 percent who don't have a high school diploma.

TAKING SIDES

Hispanics say we should be siding with Israel more than ever.

Thinking about the Mideast situation these days, do you think the U.S. should take Israel's side more, less or about as much as it has in the past?

Total Male Female White Black Other nonwhite Hispanic College High school or less
More than in the past 22% 24% 20% 22% 23% 19% 34% 17% 25%
Less than in the past 14% 16% 13% 14% 12% 20% 11% 26% 10%
As much as in the past 52% 53% 51% 53% 50% 49% 47% 52% 51%
Source: Pew Research Center for the People and the Press/Council on Foreign Relations, January 2002
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