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Pew Research: Younger Americans not thrilled w Israel?

I think the problem is that Israel isn't trending on TikTok. Bibi needs some influencers.


Younger Americans stand out in their views of the Israel-Hamas war

BY LAURA SILVER, PEW Research

April 2, 2024


Americans’ views about the Israel-Hamas war differ widely by age, as do their perceptions about discrimination against Jewish, Muslim and Arab people in the United States. Younger Americans, in particular, stand out on these issues.


Here’s a closer look at age differences in Americans’ opinions about the war, based on a Pew Research Center survey conducted in February among 12,693 U.S. adults.

How we did this


Younger Americans are more likely to sympathize with the Palestinian people than the Israeli people. A third of adults under 30 say their sympathies lie either entirely or mostly with the Palestinian people, while 14% say their sympathies lie entirely or mostly with the Israeli people. The rest say their sympathies lie equally with both, with neither or that they are not sure.


Older Americans, by comparison, are more likely to sympathize with Israelis than Palestinians. For example, among people ages 65 and older, 47% say their sympathies lie entirely or mostly with the Israeli people, while far fewer (9%) sympathize entirely or mostly with the Palestinians.


Among those under 30, however, there are wide partisan differences in views on this question and others. Republicans and Republican-leaning independents under 30 sympathize more with the Israelis than the Palestinians (28% vs. 12%). Democrats and Democratic leaners sympathize far more with the Palestinians than the Israelis (47% vs. 7%).




Younger Americans have a more favorable opinion of the Palestinian people than the Israeli people. Six-in-ten adults under age 30 have a positive view of the Palestinian people, compared with 46% who see the Israeli people positively.




Older Americans, by contrast, are more likely to have a favorable opinion of the Israeli than Palestinian people.


Views of the Israeli people have soured among younger Americans in recent years. The share of adults under 30 with a favorable view of the Israeli people has fallen 17 percentage points since 2019, while views of the Palestinian people have not changed over this span.


Older Americans’ views of both Israelis and Palestinians have remained largely unchanged.

Americans differ by age over why and how Israel is fighting Hamas. Adults under 30 are less likely than older Americans to say that Israel’s reasons for fighting Hamas are valid: 38% say this, compared with around half or more in each older age group.



Younger adults are also less likely than older people to see Israel’s response to Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack as acceptable – and more likely to see it as unacceptable. Some 46% of adults under 30 say the way Israel is carrying out its response is unacceptable, including 32% who call it completely unacceptable. Among older age groups, no more than around a third see Israel’s response as unacceptable.


Favorability of the Israeli government is also relatively low among the youngest U.S. adults. Around a quarter (24%) of Americans under 30 have a favorable view of the Israeli government, compared with half or more of those 50 and older.



There are notable age differences even among Jewish Americans: Younger Jews are more critical than older Jews of Israel’s approach to the war and have a less favorable view of Israel’s government.


Americans also differ by age over why and how Hamas is fighting Israel. Among younger Americans, 34% say Hamas’ reasons for fighting Israel are valid, while 30% say they are not valid and 35% are unsure. Older Americans are less likely to see Hamas’ reasons for fighting as valid – and far more likely to see them as not valid. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of Americans 65 and older, for example, say Hamas’ reasons are not valid.


When it comes to how Hamas carried out its attack on Israel on Oct. 7, a majority of younger Americans (58%) say it was unacceptable. But this view is more widespread among older Americans. For instance, 86% of people 65 and older say the way Hamas carried out its attack was unacceptable.



Few younger Americans think President Joe Biden is striking the right balance in the Israel-Hamas war. Only 12% of adults under 30 say this, while 36% say Biden is favoring the Israelis too much – up from 27% in December 2023 – and 10% say he is favoring the Palestinians too much.


Older Americans are somewhat more likely to say Biden is either striking the right balance or favoring the Palestinians too much.




Younger Americans are generally less supportive of a U.S. role in the conflict – and especially opposed to military aid to Israel. Only 16% of adults under 30 favor the U.S. providing military aid to Israel to help in its war against Hamas, compared with 56% of those 65 and older.



When it comes to humanitarian aid to Gaza, Americans under 30 are somewhat less likely than those 65 and older to favor it. (Much of this difference is because more younger Americans say they are unsure.)


Taken together, 46% of U.S. adults under 30 do not endorse either kind of aid asked about in our survey. This is more than twice the share among those 65 and older (21%).

In addition, adults under 30 are about twice as likely to say the U.S. should play no role in diplomatically resolving the Israel-Hamas war as they are to say the U.S. should play a major one (29% vs. 13%), though a third support a minor role. Older Americans, meanwhile, are more likely to support a major U.S. role.


Americans differ by age in their personal experiences related to the war. Adults under 30 are the most likely age group to say they have stopped talking to someone in person or unfollowed or blocked someone online because of something that person said about the Israel-Hamas war (16% say this).




Younger adults are also particularly likely to have been offended by something someone said around them about the war (24% say this). More younger Democrats than younger Republicans report experiencing this (27% vs. 20%).


Older adults, for their part, are more likely to report having been offended by something they saw on the news or social media about the war. They are also much more likely to be closely following news about the war.


Younger Americans are less likely than older people to see increased discrimination against Jews since the start of the war, but they are more likely to see increased discrimination against Muslims and Arabs.



About half (47%) of adults under 30 say discrimination against Jews in the U.S. has increased since the war began. By comparison, 73% of adults 65 and older say the same.

But while 47% of adults under 30 also say discrimination against Arabs in the U.S. has increased since the beginning of the war, this view is less common among those 65 and older (38%).


Attitudes about discrimination have also changed over time. Today, 31% of adults under 30 say Jews are facing a lot of discrimination in American society – up from 20% who said the same in 2021. Over this same period, though, the share of Americans 65 and older who say Jews face a lot of discrimination has more than doubled to 50%, up from 21%. This now-sizable age gap in views of discrimination against Jewish people was not present in 2021.


There are some age differences in Americans’ views of what kinds of speech should be allowed when it comes to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. Across age groups, majorities say people in the U.S. should be allowed to express support for and opposition to Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, as well as Palestinians having their own state. Majorities across age groups also say that calls for violence against Jews or Muslims should not be allowed.




While most adults under 50 do not think people in the U.S. should be allowed to express calls for violence against Jews or Muslims, they are still somewhat more likely than those 50 and older to think such violent expressions should be allowed.

And among those under 30, there are some significant differences by party. In particular, around one-in-five young Republicans think calls for violence against Jews and Muslims should be allowed, while only around one-in-ten young Democrats take that position.

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