Gaza conflict the least important issue for most US college students says study

Majority of students shrug at protests, but some say they wouldn’t befriend the ‘other side’


LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 2: A protestor barricades a door in an encampment at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) campus on May 2, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Eric Thayer/Getty Images)

Anti-Israel protestors on on US college campuses are in the minority according to new polling data.

Very few students consider Israel’s war in Gaza as a top priority, compared with other issues, and less than 10 per cent of students have participated in the controversial demonstrations over the war in Gaza, a new survey from Axios has revealed.

A representative sample of 1,250 US college students were quizzed by polling and statistical analysis company, The Generation Lab, between May 3 and 6 about their views.

Students were asked to rank nine different issues in order of importance.

Overall, conflict in the Middle East was ranked the least important issue facing students, falling behind health care reform, racial justice and civil rights, economic fairness and opportunity, education funding and access, and climate change.

The survey also found that three times as many students blamed Hamas for the situation in Gaza than US President Joe Biden. 34 per cent of respondents blamed Hamas for the war, while 19 per cent blame Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, 12 per cent blame the Israeli people and 12 per cent blame Biden.

A majority (81 per cent) of students said that they supported holding protesters accountable, agreeing that those who destroyed property or illegally occupied buildings should be held responsible by their university.

Two-thirds of respondents said occupying campus buildings was unacceptable and more than half (58 per cent) said it was unacceptable for students to refuse a university's order to disperse a protest or occupation.

The vast majority (90 per cent) of respondents said blocking pro-Israel students from parts of campus was unacceptable.

However, the survey also found that students were more likely to say that they supported the anti-Israel protests than opposed them. 45 per cent said they supported the Gaza encampments either strongly or a little bit, 30 per cent were neutral, and 24 per cent were strongly or slight;y opposed.

The survey also pointed to a stark divide between groups of students, as a majority of respondents who participated in the anti-Israel protests (58 per cent) said they would not consider being friends with someone who has marched for Israel in the past.

Meanwhile, 64 per cent of students who had participated in a pro-Israel protest said they would still be friends with someone who had marched against Israel.

Polling company, The Generation Lab, surveyed college students at community colleges, technical colleges, trade schools and public and private four-year institutions.

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