60 percent of young adults in the US say Hamas attacks justified, shock survey finds

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60 percent of young adults in the US say Hamas attacks justified, shock survey finds

Poll of by Harvard University’s Centre for American Political Studies highlights differences in opinion between younger and older voters towards Israel-Gaza conflict

Jenni Frazer is a freelance journalist

The damage inflicted on Israeli kibbutzim near the Gaza border
The damage inflicted on Israeli kibbutzim near the Gaza border

An American poll published by the Harris survey group and Harvard University’s Centre for American Political Studies shows overall support for Israel’s war against Hamas — but major differences between older and younger voters as to Israel’s behaviour and the way the US might proceed.

The online survey questioned 2,034 registered voters in America on December 13 and 14. In a section devoted to the Israel-Hamas war, voters aged from 18-24 were more likely to give Hamas the benefit of the doubt. For example, asked if they thought the October 7 attack on Israel was a terrorist attack or not, 27 per cent of the 18-24 age group said it was not, while only four per cent of voters aged 65 and over took that view.

Again, while only an overall 27 per cent of those surveyed said the Hamas attack “of 1200 Israeli civilians and the kidnapping of another 250 civilians can be justified by the grievances of Palestinians”, when that response was broken down into age groups, a whopping 60 per cent of 18-24-year-olds agreed that the attack could be justified. By contrast, 91 per cent of those aged 65 and over did not think that Palestinian grievances justified the attacks.

Though overall American voters appeared to support Israel, 18-24-year-olds were split 50/50/. Eighty-one per cent of all those polled supported Israel in the conflict.

Answers were slightly less divided when it came to questions of antisemitism in America and particularly on US campuses. Three-quarters of those polled said antisemitism was growing in the country, and 65 per cent also thought anti-Muslim sentiment was increasing.

Voters overall agreed that calling for the genocide of Jews on campus counted as hate speech, and that students who did so should face consquences; again, however, 53 per cent of the 18-24 age group said that people should be free to call for genocide.

Fifty-one per cent of the youngest age group felt that Israel was primarily responsible for triggering the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and 31 per cent of the same age group believed Israel had no right to exist — part of an overall total of 14 per cent.

The survey also looks at President Joe Biden’s handling of various issues — not just Israel/Hamas. On that conflict he gets a relatively reasonable approval rating of 42 per cent across the board.

And there is an interesting response to a sneak question about the favourability of various political figures. In a long table of American politicians, there are three outriders — Elon Musk, the billionaire businessman, Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.

Donald Trump comes top of this section of the survey, with Musk lying third. Netanyahu, however, comes ninth, with 36  per cent saying their view of him is “very favourable” or “favourable”. Mahmoud Abbas is bottom of the list with just 12 per cent calling him “very favourable” or ‘favourable”; while three members of The Squad, the loose coalition of progressive Democratic members of Congress, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, have all sunk in the approval ratings.

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