64% of Americans support military action to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons, finds new poll.

Pew Research Center Poll, March 2013.

Pew Research Center Poll, March 2013.

The big question that remains after President Obama’s trip to Israel and Jordan last week is this: Has the U.S. given Israeli leaders the “green light” to launch military strikes to neutralize Iran’s nuclear program before it’s too late?

In Damascus Countdown, I portray a scenario in which an American president does not want Israel to strike, but Israel launches the attack anyway. Iran then retaliates, and draws Syria into the War of Annihilation against the Jewish State. In real life, the White House has been putting enormous pressure on Israel not to hit Iran, though some analysts are speculating that perhaps President Obama has softened that position and may have, in fact, signaled his assent to Netanyahu to do what was necessary.

What’s interesting is that should military action be needed, a new poll finds that nearly two-thirds of the American people are in favor, including 62% of Democrats. To be clear, ten years after the Iraq war, Americans do not want another war in the Middle East. But strong majorities do support military action against Iran if absolutely necessary.

According to a new Pew Research Center poll, 64% of Americans “say it is more important to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, even if it means taking military action; 25% “say it is more important to avoid a military conflict with Iran, even if it means they may develop nuclear weapons.”

“Majorities across nearly all demographic groups say it is more important to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, even if it means taking military action,” noted Pew. “Still, Republicans (80%) are more likely to express this view than either Democrats (62%) or independents (59%).”

The poll also found that “the sympathies of the American public remain firmly with Israel in its dispute with the Palestinians. And when it comes to Iran, the public continues to say it is more important to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons than to avoid a military conflict.”

The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted March 13-17 among 1,501 adults, found that:

  • 49% say they sympathize more with Israel
  • 12% sympathize more with the Palestinians
  • 12% volunteers that they sympathize with neither side.

“Dating back to 1978, just prior to the peace agreement between Israel and Egypt, the public has consistently sympathized more with Israel than the Palestinians,” noted Pew. “But the partisan differences in sympathies are much wider today than they were 35 years ago. In the current survey, 66% of Republicans say they sympathize more with Israel than the Palestinians, compared with 49% of independents and 39% of Democrats. In the 1978 survey, conducted by the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, 49% of Republicans, 45% of independents and 44% of Democrats sympathized more with Israel than the Palestinians. The survey finds that 21% of Americans say that Obama favors the Palestinians too much while 9% say he favors Israel too much; 41% say he is striking the right balance in the situation in the Middle East. The percentage saying Obama favors the Palestinians too much has changed little over the past four years. About four-in-ten Republicans (39%) say Obama favors the Palestinians too much. That compares with 22% of independents and just 7% of Democrats.”

One element of the poll concerned me, however — young people have far less sympathy for Israel that older Americans.

“Just 36% of those younger than 30 sympathize more with Israel, while 19% sympathize more with the Palestinians,” the poll found. “A relatively large share of young people (37%) either offer no opinion (34%) or say they sympathize with both sides (3%). Among older age groups, there is more support for Israel: 47% of those 30 to 49 sympathize more with Israel than the Palestinians, as do majorities of those 50 to 64 (59%) and 65 and older (54%).”

Clearly, we will need to do much more to educate young people about why Israel is so important and why we should support and bless Israel and the Jewish people.

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