EXCLUSIVE POLL: British public strongly backs Israel

Survey reveals high level of support for Israel’s right to defend itself and strong sympathy for UK Jews amid rising antisemitism


The British public strongly backs Israel’s right to defend itself and feels deep sympathy for UK Jews in the wake of a recent wave of antisemitism, a new poll has revealed. 

Just 10 per cent of Britons believe Israel does not have the right to defensive action while 55 per cent believe it does, according to a survey of 2,097 people carried out by Deltapoll over the past week. 

The study, commissioned by the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC), also showed strong public concern for British Jews over a spate of antisemitic attacks triggered by the conflict between Israel and Gaza.

Fifty-two per cent agreed that incidents such as the shouting of racist slogans from cars in Jewish areas made them “worry that future atrocities against Jewish people are still possible”.

It comes as Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab visited Israel this week to express Britain’s support for the ceasefire, while Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden told the JC that he supported Zionism — and called on social media companies to adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism.

Almost half of those surveyed by Deltapoll, 44 per cent, said the antisemitic incidents of recent weeks made them concerned for the safety of British Jews, while 46 per cent said it reminded them of historical atrocities against Jews.

A strong majority, 59 per cent, agreed that they were “angry and embarrassed” that incidents like the car convoy could occur in the present day. And almost nine in ten agreed that the perpetrators should be brought to justice — with over half of those saying that those responsible should face the toughest penalties.

Turning to Israel, 55 per cent agreed with the following statement: “Israel has a right to defend itself. If civilian areas in this country were being 

attacked with rockets then I would expect the British government to do everything possible to defend people living here.” 

Only four per cent of people “strongly” disagreed, with six per cent saying they “tend to disagree”.

Asked if British Jews should be asked to justify the actions of the Israeli government, a resounding 64 per cent replied “no”, with just 12 per cent answering “yes”.

Overall, the poll showed that a large proportion of Britons either say they don’t know or have no strong opinion about who is to blame for the latest upsurge in violence.

Asked if Israel should do whatever it thinks necessary to defend itself, even if it involves the loss of life, 27 per cent disagreed, with 37 per cent agreeing. 

But 17  per cent said that Hamas should do whatever it thinks necessary to establish an independent Islamic state in historical Palestine, even if it involves the loss of life, with 39 per cent disagreeing.

Fifteen per cent attached some or all of the blame to Hamas or “mainly the Hamas government of Gaza but I also blame the Israelis a little”. Twenty per cent said only Israel deserves blame or “mainly the Israelis but I also blame the Hamas government of Gaza a little” for the latest wave of violence. 

The biggest groups were those blaming both sides equally – 33 per cent – or answering “don’t know” at 32 per cent. 

The poll showed that younger people were more hostile towards Israel than  older people. For example, only 29 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds agreed that Israel had a right to do whatever it takes to defend itself, even if it involved the loss of life, compared to 49 per cent of over-65s.  

This pattern was repeated across the survey, suggesting that young people may be heavily influenced by pro-Palestinian messages online on various social media platforms.

Whereas only 24 per cent of the whole sample reported seeing anti-Jewish racism connected to the conflict between Israel and Palestinians in the last week, the figure for 18-24s was 40 per cent.

In a sign of how popular cause-based activism has become among the young, only 22 per cent of the youngest age group agreed that  professional sports players should be banned from expressing support for one side during a match or immediately afterwards. That compared with 76 per cent of the 55-64 age group, and 81 per cent of over-65s. 

Claudia Mendoza, co-CEO of the JLC, said: “Many of us will have asked ourselves the question that has returned again and again over the past few years: are we safe here? 

“Is this still a country where we can make a Jewish life, and one where Jews are not just tolerated but also feel welcome?

“The good news from the survey is that most non-Jewish Britons are paying attention and share our concerns.”

She added: “We are lucky to live in a country where an increasing number of people see racism as a throwback to the past.”


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