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JERUSALEM ISSUE BRIEF

Vol. 3, No. 19     1 March 2004


Polling the Importance of Israel's Rights to a United Jerusalem and Defensible Borders for Likely American Voters:
A Nationwide U.S. Survey

John McLaughlin


  • The survey results clearly show that American voters, regardless of party affiliation, ideology, and religion, trust Israel in a peace agreement to protect the freedom of religion for all faiths and that Israel has the right to protect itself with defensible borders.

  • Conversely, American voters don't trust the Palestinian Authority in any future agreement to protect the freedom of religion for all faiths.

  • For that reason there is across-the-board support for Jerusalem remaining united under Israeli sovereignty.

  • The survey results also illustrate that these key Middle Eastern issues are important presidential election issues and that the voters are more likely to support a candidate for president who stands by Israel's side in supporting a united Jerusalem and defensible borders for Israel.


Key Findings

The September 11 attacks have made the majority (58%) of American voters more sympathetic with Israel's struggle against suicide bombings and other forms of terrorism. Specifically, over three-quarters (78%) of American Jewish voters are more sympathetic towards Israel and the results clearly show the majority of all American voters, regardless of party, ideology, or religion, are more sympathetic with Israel's struggles against terrorism. In particular, this sentiment grows among Republicans, Independents, and conservatives.

Did the September 11 attacks make you more sympathetic or less sympathetic with Israel's struggle against suicide bombings and other forms of terrorism?

 PartyIdeologyReligion
 TotalRepDemIndLibModConsProtestantCatholicJewish
More58615460555465585878
Less131216816151012173
No Diff24222427252523252111
Don't Know5564483648


When given the facts, the majority (59%) of voters don't believe the Palestinian Authority can be trusted in a future agreement to protect freedom of religion for all faiths. This majority opinion of distrust is clear across the board. Specifically, the distrust of the Palestinian Authority protecting freedom of religion for all faiths significantly increases among Republicans, conservatives, and Jewish voters.

Between 1948 and 1967 Jordan controlled the holy sites of Jerusalem and did not permit freedom of worship to all faiths. Since 1967 Israel has controlled the holy sites of Jerusalem and has permitted freedom of worship. Do you think the Palestinian Authority can be trusted in a future agreement to protect freedom of religion for all faiths?

 PartyIdeologyReligion
 TotalRepDemIndLibModConsProtestantCatholicJewish
Yes18132118221913181814
No59695257545669586078
Don't Know2418272624251824228


Nearly three-quarters (73%) of all voters agree that "under a future Arab-Israeli agreement, Jerusalem should remain united under Israeli sovereignty, with freedom of religion for Christians, Muslims, Jews and all other faiths." Only 9% disagree with that statement. Clearly, American voters trust Israel over the Palestinian Authority to protect freedom of religion.

Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? "Under a future Arab-Israeli peace agreement, Jerusalem should remain united under Israeli sovereignty, with freedom of religion for Christians, Muslims, Jews and all other faiths."

 PartyIdeologyReligion
 TotalRepDemIndLibModConsProtestantCatholicJewish
Agree73777069727079737389
Disagree9711891178118
Don't Know1816182319181418163


After hearing the facts, 3 in 5 (60%) voters are less trusting of giving the Christian holy sites of Jerusalem to the Palestinians. This majority sentiment crosses all voter segments and reiterates the clear distrust of the Palestinian Authority.

Since the start of the Palestinian Intifada, the Tomb of Joseph in Nablus, the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, and the ancient synagogue of Jericho were ransacked or desecrated by the Palestinians. Have these events made you more trusting or less trusting of giving the Christian holy sites of Jerusalem to the Palestinians?

 PartyIdeologyReligion
 TotalRepDemIndLibModConsProtestantCatholicJewish
More5545544563
Less60685560556069606569
No Diff159191718161214138
Don't Know20182218222016201619


In regard to any future peace agreement, the majority (54%) of all voters believe that Israel should be entitled to defensible borders, while only 16% think Israel should be forced to return to the boundaries of 1967. The majority support of Israel's right to defensible borders increases among Republicans, conservatives, and Jewish voters.

Do you agree with the position that in any future peace agreement, Israel should be entitled to defensible borders OR do you agree with the position that Israel should be forced to return to the boundaries of 1967, when Israel was eight miles wide at its narrowest point and came under attack?

 PartyIdeologyReligion
 TotalRepDemIndLibModConsProtestantCatholicJewish
Defensible54604955505161555675
1967 Borders1612191416191316178
Don't Know30273231333026302817


The majority (52%) of all voters would be more likely to support a presidential candidate who stood by Israel's side in supporting a united Jerusalem and defensible borders for Israel. Only 13% would be less likely to support such a candidate. These results indicate that standing by Israel in supporting a united Jerusalem and defensible borders for Israel is an important presidential election issue that can garner voter support for a candidate. The voter support increases among Republicans, conservatives, and Jewish voters.

Would you be more likely or less likely to support a presidential candidate who stood by Israel's side in supporting a united Jerusalem and defensible borders for Israel?

 PartyIdeologyReligion
 TotalRepDemIndLibModConsProtestantCatholicJewish
More52604749464564544978
Less139161316179121411
No Diff2118212625251521236
Don't Know1413161214141214146


Methodology

This national survey of 1,000 likely American voters was conducted on February 23-24, 2004. All interviews were conducted via telephone by professional interviewers. Respondent selection was at random within predetermined geographical units, which reflect actual voter distributions in a presidential election. The accuracy of this survey of 1,000 likely American voters is +/- 3.1% at the 95% confidence interval.

*     *     *

John McLaughlin, founder of McLaughlin and Associates, has worked professionally as a strategic consultant and pollster for twenty years.


Dore Gold, Publisher; Lenny Ben-David, ICA Program Director; Mark Ami-El, Managing Editor. Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (Registered Amuta), 13 Tel-Hai St., Jerusalem, Israel; Tel. 972-2-5619281, Fax. 972-2-5619112, Email: jcpa@netvision.net.il. In U.S.A.: Center for Jewish Community Studies, 5800 Park Heights Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21215 USA, Tel. (410) 664-5222; Fax. (410) 664-1228. Website: www.jcpa.org. © Copyright. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of the Board of Fellows of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

The Institute for Contemporary Affairs (ICA) is dedicated to providing a forum for Israeli policy discussion and debate.
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