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Friday, October 11, 2002
New Poll: American Christians and support for Israel

New Poll: American Christians and support for Israel
October 9, 2002
by The Tarrance Group

To: Stand for Israel
(a project of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews)

From: Ed Goeas & William Stewart

Subject: American Christians and support for Israel

This research project was designed to fulfill two main objectives: [a] to
determine the extent to which different subgroups of the U.S. population
support Israel as well as the basis for this support; and [b] to determine
whether or not evangelical Christians share common values and opinions with
Jews, and vice versa.

I. The key findings

· A majority (54%) of Americans indicates that it supports Israel and its
policies and actions towards Palestinian terrorism; just 29% are opposed.
The most commonly cited reasons as to why Americans support Israel is
because the two countries share common values and enjoy friendly relations.

· While it comes as no surprise that Jews are the most unified in their
support towards Israel (85%), it is surprising that Democrats and liberals –
two groups with which Jews are typically aligned – are far less likely to
share the same opinion. Support for Israel stands at 46% among Democrats and
45% among self-identified liberals, while among Republicans and
self-identified conservatives this figure reaches 67% and 61%, respectively.

· This survey also finds that evangelical Christians who frequently attend
religious services are among those most supportive of Israel. Fully 62% of
conservative Christians say they support Israel and its policies and actions
towards Palestinian terrorism, and among conservative Christian men this
figure jumps to 77%. Even among other major religious groups like Catholics
and Protestants support for Israel still exceeds 50%.

· Evangelicals are most likely to indicate they support Israel because of
the strong relationship that Israel has developed with the United States –
24% point to the fact that Israel is a democracy that values self-government
and freedom and another 19% support Israel because it is an important and
longstanding ally to our country in the war against terrorism.

· Contrary to conventional wisdom, a minority of evangelicals cites their
theological belief as the reason why they support Israel. Thirty-five
percent (35%) of evangelicals say they support Israel because it is the
place prophesized for the Second Coming of Christ in the New Testament.
While this may be important to some, theological reasoning is not the
dominant factor in most evangelical’s decision to support Israel. Still,
there is no evidence in this survey to suggest that entire groups of people
– aside from Jews – support or oppose Israel and its policies and actions
against Palestinian terrorism because of their religious beliefs.

· In response to a more in-depth follow-up question regarding the specific
theological reason why one supports Israel, 59% of conservative Christians
point to reasons related to the Biblical promise to bless Israel and the
Jewish people. Only 28% of conservative Christians cite reasons related to
end times as the main theological reason why they support Israel. This is a
sharp departure from the caricature often painted of conservative Christian
support for Israel as based solely on the Second Coming of Christ. Moreover,
as seen among conservative Christians, roughly two-in-three Jews (62%) also
point to God’s covenant to the Jewish people as the number one theological
reason why they support Israel.

· One thing this survey does reveal about those individuals who are
“anti-Israel” is that three-quarters of them (76%) believe that the Israelis
and the Palestinians are equally to blame for the current conflict. Overall,
just 38% of Americans lay blame solely on Yasser Arafat and the
Palestinians; however, this figure climbs is notably higher among both
conservative Christians and Jews (47% and 67%, respectively).

· When comparing other survey responses among conservative Christians and
Jews, there is plenty of evidence in this survey to show that these two
groups in fact share similar opinions and viewpoints on many issues,
especially when it comes to Israel. The big difference is that many
conservative Christians would speculate that their opinions and values are
similar to those held by Jews, but Jews are far less likely to accept the
notion that their opinions and values are similar to those held by

· On the issue of whether or not conservative Christians believe they share
the same viewpoint as Jews when it comes to the issue of Israel and its
current struggle against Palestine, 67% indicate that they believe their
viewpoint is similar. However, when asking Jews whether or not they share
the same viewpoint as fundamentalist and evangelical Christians on the issue
of Israel, only 49% indicate that they believe that their viewpoint is
similar. This is an important disparity because it demonstrates that
conservative Christians here in the U.S. think they are on the same page as
the Jews when it comes to the issue of Israel, but the Jews just don't see
it the same way.

· Despite the fact that 53% of Jews would agree with the statement that
fundamentalist and evangelical Christians are strong supporters of Israel,
Jews continue to harbor a certain degree of skepticism towards the
evangelical Christian community. Jews also reject the notion that
conservative Christians seek to create a Christian nation by a margin of
two-to-one, thus suggesting that dialogue between these two groups is

II. Other major findings from this survey

· Four-out-of-five adults (80%) agree that enemies of the United States,
like Saddam Hussein and Al Queda, are also enemies of Israel. Agreement with
this statement exceeds 75% among nearly every major demographic group.

· Nearly three-in-five Americans (59%) say they favor U.S. military action
against Iraq; 39% oppose such action. conservative Christians are among
those most in favor of U.S. military action against Iraq (69%), as are
Republicans (80%) and men (65%). In contrast, Democrats and self-identified
liberals are essentially evenly divided on this issue.

· This survey finds that George W. Bush is making real progress in appealing
to the Jewish community. A clear majority of Jews (81%) see Bush as a strong
supporter of Israel, and 46% say they would be more likely to vote for him
based on the way he has been handling the war on terrorism. His job approval
and image ratings are also quite strong among Jews given the fact that over
60% of this population identify themselves as Democrat and fewer than 20%
voted for Bush in 2000. Fully 43% approve of the job Bush is doing as
President and 53% have a favorable impression of him. The bottom line is
that Bush appears to making some significant inroads with this heavily
Democratic group, something that could have an impact on the next two
election cycles.

III. Conclusion

· Conservative Christians are strongly supportive of Israel, an opinion that
is driven more because of the strong relationship that Israel has with the
United States than theological reasons. And it’s not just the evangelicals
themselves telling us that they stand for Israel, other groups – namely Jews
– also acknowledge that they believe evangelicals are supportive of Israel.
Indeed, this survey demonstrates that Christians and Jews share similar
values, especially on the key issue of the conflict in Israel. Certainly the
door is open for these two groups to engage in dialogue.

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