(Lindsey Wasson / Associated Press)

U.S. Polls Show Shifting Landscapes on Gaza Ceasefire

Published on 27 Feb 2024

The international calls for a permanent ceasefire in the 2023-24 war in Gaza are growing by the day across the globe. A recent February 2024 poll from the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU) surveyed public opinion attitudes towards a permanent ceasefire within major religious demographic groups across America today. Although primarily focused on studying American Muslim and Jewish views towards a permanent Gaza ceasefire, the February 2024 ISPU poll also surveyed Catholic, Protestant (including white Evangelicals) and those not affiliated with a religious group, on a number of topics related to the latest Israeli war in Gaza. 

According to the February 2024 ISPU poll, the majority of American Muslim, Catholic, Protestant (including Evangelicals), and non-affiliated Americans “favor a permanent ceasefire” in Gaza. Interestingly, the researchers found that the majority of Republicans in the general public “also favor a ceasefire” and although just shy of a majority; the American Jewish community are also more likely to favor a ceasefire (50%) rather than oppose one (34%). 

In terms of age breakdown, the ISPU study found that older Jewish people across America (ages 50+) were almost “twice as likely” as younger Jewish people (ages 18-29) to oppose a ceasefire (41% vs. 22%). On the other hand, nearly half of older Jewish Americans (46%) support a ceasefire compared to 54% of younger members of the Jewish faith.

Surprisingly on the flip side, the same study found the inverse in that younger American Muslims (age 18-29) were actually “more likely than their elders to oppose a ceasefire” in Gaza (20% vs 6%) even though a majority of all Muslim age groups support a permanent ceasefire overall (between 68% – 80%) of the total US Muslim population.

In terms of assigning blame for starting the Israel/Gaza war, it was not surprising to find that the February 2024 ISPU poll found that a majority of Jewish people in America (65%) and white Evangelicals (51%) primarily blamed Hamas for the ongoing violence (with the plurality of Catholics [47%] agreeing as well). Not surprisingly, the American Muslim community as a group were “roughly four times as likely to blame the Israeli government (40%)” compared to 12% blaming Hamas (and roughly one-third of American Muslims [35%] blaming both sides equally). The study also found that American Protestants were about twice as likely to blame Hamas (29%) as the Israeli government (13%), but the plurality (34%) blame both equally. Non-affiliated Americans are far more likely to blame Hamas as opposed to the Israeli government (34% vs 6%) but the plurality blame both sides equally (38%). 

Another different December 2023 public opinion poll from the Data for Progress think tank surveyed 1,200 likely American voters and found that a majority of U.S. likely voters supported a permanent ceasefire and de-escalation of violence in Gaza — and most preferred that the U.S. prioritize diplomacy and humanitarian aid to curtail violence in the region. Furthermore, the same December 2023 poll found that a wide majority of American voters were also “concerned about a rise in hate incidents toward Jewish and Muslim or Arab Americans” with the uptick in anti-Semitism and Islamophobia around the world.

The same Data for Progress poll also found that sixty-one percent (61%) of likely voters- including a majority of Democrats (76%) and Independents (57%) and a plurality of Republicans (49%)- supported the U.S. calling for a permanent ceasefire and a de-escalation of violence in Gaza.Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) mentioned this same poll on the floor of Congress and questioned why so few members of the government were aligned with the public’s views- noting that only 11 percent of Congress had called for a ceasefire at the time when over 75 percent of Democrat supported a permanent ceasefire in Gaza.

A month earlier in November 2023, a Gallup poll found that nearly half of Americans (45%) disapproved of Israel’s military action in Gaza and found that 63 percent of Democrats, 64 percent of people of color, and 67 percent of young people aged 18-34 collectively opposed the war altogether.

This shift in public opinion has also translated into a shift at the United Nations as well. Although the United States most recently vetoed (for the third time) a February 2024 UN Security Council resolution calling for an immediate permanent ceasefire, the UN General Assembly has noticeably moved in the other direction towards supporting a permanent ceasefire. 

To illustrate this point, a December 2023 UN General Assembly vote found 153 countries voting in favor of an immediate humanitarian ceasefire. This December 2023 vote was more than a 25% increase from an earlier October 2023 UN General Assembly vote where 121 countries similarly backed a permanent ceasefire resolution. Notably, the December 2023 UN General Assembly vote also found traditional US allies like Canada, Australia, and Japan moving from “no” to “yes” column and joining the global chorus of countries voting in the affirmative after all had previously abstained two months earlier during the October 2023 General Assembly vote. Not surprisingly, the United States was one of a handful of countries to oppose the ceasefire resolution, while some of its other allies- including Germany and the United Kingdom-  abstained from the December 2023 General Assembly vote on a permanent Gaza ceasefire.

A comparison of American public opinion trends on Israel/Gaza and the Russia/Ukraine wars, reveals some close parallels. For instance, a November 2023 poll sponsored by YouGov found that “majorities of Americans support the idea of ceasefires in both the ongoing Russia-Ukraine and Israel-Hamas wars.” The researchers found that nearly 7-in-10 American citizens (68%) supported a Russia/Ukraine ceasefire and nearly the same amount (65%) of American citizens supported a permanent ceasefire in the Israel/Gaza war. The YouGov poll noted that majorities of all political affiliations (Democrats, Republicans, and Independents) supported a permanent ceasefire in both wars and that “Democrats are somewhat more likely to support a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, while Republicans are somewhat more likely to support a ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine.”

In terms of electoral politics, a January 2024 public opinion survey jointly sponsored by the Arab American Institute (AAI) and the Rainbow PUSH Coalition found that likely voters across America are substantially more likely to back candidates for Congress if they know those candidates favor de-escalation in terms of ceasefires. The study which polled 1,000 Americans was conducted by John Zogby Strategies in January 2024 and found that in response to two separate questions- by a two-to-one margin- respondents indicated that they are more inclined to support a member of Congress who supports a cease-fire (as opposed to electors who oppose calls for a cease-fire).

American politicians finally seem to be slowly catching up to public opinion when it comes to calling for a Gaza ceasefire as well. As of late February 2024, nearly 20 percent of members of Congress (~75 representatives) and one-fourth of the United States Senate (~25 out of 100 senators) have publicly supported a Gaza ceasefire, according to a running tabulation maintained by the group Win Without War. AAI President James Zogby stated that, “There’s significant support for candidates who support a cease-fire.” He further noted that the results from the aforementioned AAI/Operation PUSH January 2024 poll above actually mirror results from other surveys which suggest that President Biden is “losing support with young people and non-white voters over Gaza.” 

Since October 2023, at least 29,000+ Palestinian and 1,200+ Israeli lives have been lost during the brutal war in Gaza (with 70% of Palestinian casualties being women and children). Global public opinion has shifted in many different ways, but numerous surveys are now showing that the plurality of American public sentiment is definitely shifting towards calling for a permanent ceasefire in the Israel/Gaza war. These shifting landscapes in public opinion are causing political leaders- both domestically here in the United States and internationally at the United Nations and beyond- to reconsider their political stances and slowly change their positions on a permanent humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza to more accurately reflect the plurality of their populations.