Half of Americans Approve of Israel's Military Attacks in Lebanon

by Lydia Saad

Americans say Hezbollah to blame for conflict, but Israeli force excessive

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- According to a new USA Today/Gallup poll, the American public clearly denounces the recent actions of the Hezbollah organization in Lebanon and sympathizes with Israel's position, but stops short of endorsing the extent of military action taken by Israel thus far. While Israel is reportedly amassing ground troops to invade southern Lebanon if its air attacks don't succeed in crippling Hezbollah, American public opinion tilts against a ground invasion.

On the positive side for Israel, the July 21-23 poll finds only 15% of Americans blaming Israel a great deal for the current attacks in Israel and Lebanon, compared with 53% assigning a great deal of blame to Hezbollah. Also, more than four in five Americans (83%) say Israel's military actions are justified to some degree, while 7% say they are not justified.

The negative for Israel is that only one-third of Americans say all of Israel's military actions in Lebanon are justified, while half say Israel's actions are justified but have gone too far. As a result, overall approval of Israel's actions in this conflict is somewhat subdued at 50%, while 38% disapprove and 12% have no opinion.

Another indication of Americans' hesitancy about the conflict comes from a question measuring public reaction to a possible invasion of southern Lebanon by Israeli ground troops. Only 40% of Americans currently favor this idea, while slightly more (47%) oppose it.

Hezbollah, Not Lebanon, to Blame for Attacks Against Israel

One reason more than half of Americans perceive Israel's actions to be either excessive (50%) or unwarranted (7%) could be the harm being done to the Lebanese infrastructure and civilian population by its attacks, when a smaller percentage of Americans consider Lebanon a major instigator of the conflict.

Whereas a majority of Americans say Hezbollah deserves a great deal of blame for the current attacks in Israel and Lebanon, only 27% blame Lebanon a great deal. This is not much higher than the 15% who blame Israel to this degree. In fact, Americans are more likely to blame Iran for the conflict than they are to blame Lebanon (39% vs. 27%).

Factoring in the percentage of Americans saying each country or group deserves a moderate amount of blame for the attacks produces the same rank order. However, on this basis the American public is divided between those who assign at least moderate blame to Israel, and those who say Israel deserves little or no blame.

Hezbollah Has Few Defenders in the United States

Only 11% of Americans approve of the military actions taken by Hezbollah. Seventy-six percent disapprove, which is much greater than disapproval of the military action taken by Israel.

Gallup asked respondents how strongly they feel about their approval or disapproval of Israel and Hezbollah. Strong approval of Hezbollah (3%) is minimal compared with the 28% who strongly approve of Israel. At the same time -- highlighting the anti-Hezbollah attitudes at the core of American public reaction to the conflict -- nearly twice as many Americans strongly disapprove of Hezbollah as strongly approve of Israel (52% vs. 28%).

Survey Methods

These results are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1,005 adults, aged 18 and older, conducted July 21-23, 2006. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is ±3 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

How much do you blame -- [RANDOM ORDER] -- for the current attacks in Israel and Lebanon -- a great deal, a moderate amount, not very much, or not at all?

2006 Jul 21-23
(sorted by "great deal")


Great deal

Great deal/moderate amount

Not very much/not at all

%

%

%

Hezbollah

53

76

12

Iran

39

70

19

Syria

29

65

19

Lebanon

27

65

24

Israel

15

45

44

Full Results

Israel

Great
deal

Moderate
amount

Not very
much

Not
at all

No
opinion

2006 Jul 21-23

15%

30

21

23

11

Trends for Comparison: How much do you blame the -- [Israelis] -- for the current violence in the Middle East -- a great deal, a moderate amount, not very much, or not at all?

Great
deal

Moderate
amount

Not very
much

None
at all

No
opinion

2003 Oct 10-12

20%

48

18

10

4

2002 Mar 22-24

26%

46

14

10

4

Hezbollah

Great
deal

Moderate
amount

Not very
much

Not
at all

No
opinion

2006 Jul 21-23

53%

23

7

5

12

Iran

Great
deal

Moderate
amount

Not very
much

Not
at all

No
opinion

2006 Jul 21-23

39%

31

13

6

10

Syria

Great
deal

Moderate
amount

Not very
much

Not
at all

No
opinion

2006 Jul 21-23

29%

36

13

6

15

Lebanon

Great
deal

Moderate
amount

Not very
much

Not
at all

No
opinion

2006 Jul 21-23

27%

38

15

9

11

Do you approve or disapprove of the military action Israel has taken in Lebanon?

Approve

Disapprove

No opinion

2006 Jul 21-23

50%

38

12

Do you [approve/disapprove] strongly or only moderately?

Approve strongly

Approve not strongly

Disapprove not strongly

Disapprove strongly

No
opinion

2006 Jul 21-23

28%

22

23

15

12

Do you approve or disapprove of the military action Hezbollah has taken in Israel?

Approve

Disapprove

No opinion

2006 Jul 21-23

11%

76

13

Do you [approve/disapprove] strongly or only moderately?

Approve strongly

Approve not strongly

Disapprove not strongly

Disapprove strongly

No
opinion

2006 Jul 21-23

3%

8

24

52

13

Which comes closest to your view of Israel's current military action in Lebanon - [ROTATED: Israel is justified in all of the military action it has taken so far, Israel is justified in taking some military action, but has gone too far, or Israel is not justified in any of the military action it has taken]?

Justified in
all military
action taken


Justified, but
gone too far

Not justified in any
military action
taken


No
opinion

2006 Jul 21-23

33%

50

7

9

Do you favor or oppose the use of Israeli ground troops in an invasion of southern Lebanon?

Favor

Oppose

No opinion

2006 Jul 21-23

40%

47

12

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Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/23887/Half-Americans-Approve-Israels-Military-Attacks-Lebanon.aspx
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