Conflict and America’s role in the world: Americans show sympathy for Israeli people; parties divide over aid to Israel, Ukraine

Most Americans have sympathy for both the Israeli and Palestinian people, but sympathy for the Israelis is higher, and most support providing military aid and weapons to Israel.

Support for sending weapons and military aid to Israel is driven particularly by Republicans. Democrats are more divided, with the very liberal wing of the party the most in opposition.

A similar majority of Americans supports sending weapons and military aid to Ukraine, but the partisan directions  are opposite, with a large majority of Democrats in support and Republicans more divided. Here, a slight majority of Republicans oppose military aid.


Israel-Hamas conflict

Though there is at least some sympathy for both the Israeli and Palestinian people in the current conflict between Israel and Hamas, that sympathy is not given in equal measure. More Americans say they sympathize with the Israelis, and the level of sympathy is also greater: Americans are nearly twice as likely to feel “a lot” of sympathy for the Israeli people than the Palestinians.


Beneath these overall percentages are partisan divisions about how Americans view the conflict. 

Democrats show equal sympathy for both groups, while Republicans have far more sympathy for the Israelis, by comparison. Half of Republicans say they don’t have much — or any sympathy — for the Palestinian people.



Democrats with college degrees tend to express greater sympathy for Palestinian people than do Democrats without degrees; both groups equally express sympathy for Israel. Among Republicans, there is little difference on this measure by education level.

There is more bipartisan agreement on sending weapons and military aid to Israel — something a majority of Americans agree with — and those who sympathize the most with the Israeli people are most in favor of sending military aid.

Here again, Republicans are more unified on this measure than Democrats. Opposition is strongest among Democrats who have four-year college degrees, who describe themselves as “very liberal” and those who are relatively more sympathetic to the Palestinian people.


War in Ukraine

By comparison, a similar percentage of Americans think the U.S. should send weapons and military aid to Ukraine in its conflict with Russia, but here the partisan splits are reversed, with a large majority of Democrats in agreement and most Republicans opposed. Among Republicans, it’s self-described “MAGA” Republicans who voice slightly more opposition.


Views on America’s approach to foreign policy

Americans across the political spectrum think the U.S. should try to stay out of other countries’ affairs, rather than try to solve problems around the world. When the U.S. does have to act, overwhelming majorities would like to see the U.S. work with allies as much as possible rather than act alone. Not surprisingly, those who see America as having more of a role in solving problems around the world and want the U.S. to work with allies rather than go it alone are more supportive of sending military aid to both Israel and Ukraine.



A majority also prefer the U.S. promote American ideals rather than project its military power, but here there is more division. Republicans — most of whom think it’s very important for the U.S. to be feared along with being respected — are evenly divided on whether the U.S. should stress its ideals or its military might. Three in four Democrats — who put more importance on being liked rather than being feared — favor promoting American ideals.



This CBS News/YouGov survey was conducted with a nationally representative sample of 2,636 U.S. adult residents interviewed between October 30th-November 3rd, 2023. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the U.S. Census American Community Survey and Current Population Survey, as well as past vote. The margin of error is ±2.6 points.


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