Israel boycott opposed by nearly half of British public, survey finds

Bicom research reveals almost a fifth feels ‘warm attitudes’ towards the Jewish state


Just under half of the UK public opposes boycotts of Israel while almost a fifth feels “warm attitudes” towards the Jewish state, a new poll has found.

A nationally-representative survey of 2,026 British adults by Populus, on behalf of the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre (Bicom), found that marginally more people felt “warmth” towards Palestine than Israel.

Overall opposition to Israel boycotts has fallen by two per cent points since 2018, and 45 per cent of people believed that “hating” the country and questioning its right to exist was antisemitic.

James Sorene, Bicom’s chief executive, argued the “most striking” feature of these results was the stability of British beliefs about the Middle East, with many key indicators unchanged when compared to a similar poll conducted last year.

However, attitudes towards Turkey bucked this trend. The proportion of respondents reporting feeling warmth towards the fell from nearly a quarter to just 16 per cent in the twelve months between surveys.

Mr Sorene said: “Warmth towards Israel and the Palestinians has largely stayed the same for five years, though we have seen small decreases in both this year.

“The importance of close defence and intelligence ties between Britain and Israel is acknowledged in the survey with 44 per cent of people saying Israel is an important partner for Britain in the fight against terrorism.

“But perhaps the real story is the large drop in support for Turkey, no doubt a reaction to the Turkish invasion of northern Syria which took place just two weeks before the survey was carried out.

“Iranian violations of the 2015 nuclear deal and the seizure of a UK flagged tanker in July also appear to have had an impact with one in five people saying Iran is a significant threat to the security of the UK, an increase of four percentage points since last year.”

Roughly one in seven Brits appeared to agree with boycotts of Israel, but 37 per cent of young people aged 18-24 disagreed with the concept.

On Iran, there was a four point increase in British perceptions of the country as a security threat. 20 per cent said it was a “significant” threat while 16 per cent said it was no threat at all.

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