Church attendance and religious tradition impacted responses to questions about whether U.S. citizens sympathized more with Israelis or Palestinians in the Middle East conflict.
A strong U.S. majority (62 percent) sympathized more with Israelis than Palestinians, according to a Gallup poll.
Support for Israel in the U.S. has grown from 51 percent in 2001, reaching a high of 63 percent in 2013 and remaining stable at 62 percent since 2014.
Twenty-three percent of respondents said they were more sympathetic with Palestinians, up from 22 percent last year and declining from a high of 33 percent in 2001.
Despite the strong support of Israelis across all demographic categories, certain factors, including religious tradition and frequency of church attendance, impacted responses.
Data on three religious categories was provided: Catholics, Protestants/other Christians, and no religion.
Among respondents without a religious affiliation, 41 percent sympathized with Israelis and 29 percent with Palestinians.
Catholic responses were 58 percent and 11 percent, respectively, compared to Protestants/other Christians at 72 percent and 10 percent.
Worship attendance also influenced answers. Weekly attendees were more likely to sympathize with Israelis (75 percent) than with Palestinians (9 percent).
Of those attending a few times a month, 65 sympathized with Israelis and 13 percent with Palestinians. Among people who seldom or never attend worship, Israeli support declined to 56 percent and Palestinian sympathy rose to 19 percent.
A notable shift took place from 2005 to 2007, as support for Israelis increased 6 percent and sympathy with Palestinians declined by 8 percent.
Gallup attributed this to the 2006 Palestinian elections “in which Hamas – which the U.S. government has classified as a terrorist group – won the majority of parliamentary seats.”
Despite the overall Israeli support, when asked about an independent Palestinian state, 44 percent favored this position while 37 percent opposed it.
Gallup called these findings “intriguing” and commented, “The finding suggests that despite the lack of U.S. diplomatic activity on this issue in recent years, it is still something Americans would generally welcome should the next president be willing to work toward it.”
The full survey results are available here.