A substantial number of American and British students support the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) effort against Israeli manufacturers, according to a poll released by IPSOS market research on Tuesday.
The poll, which surveyed 1,100 college and university students in the United States and the UK, asked respondents whether the Palestinian BDS strategy against Israel’s so-called apartheid regime is "justified." Poll results revealed that 33% of US students and 40% of British students agree.
Respondents were also asked whether they support a boycott of Israel by their respective countries, with 24% of US students and 33% of British students responding in the affirmative.
Nonetheless, the research found that a majority of Americans polled view the boycott of Israel as anti-Semitic, with a view toward harming Israeli Jews, a position held by 62% of respondents. By contrast, 49% of British students believe the boycott is a form of modern-day anti-Semitism, whereas 51% believe the BDS movement is not predicated on religion.
These latter findings are revealing, in light of recent criticism of the Israeli government by international human rights groups, and Jerusalem’s continued affronts against an ever-accommodating Obama Administration.
Weeks ago, the long-term Israeli-Palestinian conflict again became front-page news, after an Israeli Defense Force medic shot an unarmed and critically-injured Palestinian man in the head at point-blank range while a crowd looked on. The Israeli medic was not denounced publicly, but rather opinion polls showed that Israelis suggested the killer receive a commendation.
America’s diplomatic relations with Israel have continued to sour, beginning a year ago when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in an unusual gambit sponsored by high-profile Republican lawmakers, took to the floor of the US Congress to criticize the Obama Administration’s proposed Iran nuclear deal.
Despite consistent criticism of the US president on both the domestic and international stage, Obama promised the Netanyahu regime some $3.7 billion in military aid annually, the single greatest offering of aid from one nation-state to another in recorded history. In what many are considering an act of bad faith between allies, Netanyahu countered with a demand for $4.5 billion instead.
Most recently, Netanyahu’s regime appointed controversial far-right politician Avigdor Lieberman to head the Ministry of Defense, sparking regional concern that Jerusalem seeks to employ an ever-more hostile military strategy in coming years, earning increased scrutiny from Beltway policy-makers.
Despite continued human-rights abuses and acts many consider to be undermining the stature of the United States, many Americans continue to hold a favorable view of Netanyahu’s administration, dismissing allegations of apartheid-like conditions for Palestinians.
Danny Danon, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, observed that Israel has "no more important ally than the United States and no closer friends than the American people." However, the ambassador observed that students are increasingly refuting the conventional wisdom that Israel is always right, suggesting the country has support primarily among voters over 30.
Danon stated that Israel must spend more money to lobby students directly on campuses, providing trips to Israel as well as additional perks, to "better explain why we share a partnership based on shared values."
The recent survey reveals the success of Israel’s information war on Americans, compared to a more sophisticated British electorate. But the Israeli habit of influencing mainstream media outlets appears to be less and less effective as a tech-savvy generation gathers news from nontraditional sources.