Support for Israel trends up in Canada

| Filed under: National

One half disagree with Harper's stance on Gaza, Israel's attack

TORONTO AUGUST 20th, 2014 – In a random sampling of public opinion taken by the Forum Poll™ among 1798 Canadian voters, over half of Canadians lean to neither the Israeli of Palestinian side of the Mideast conflict (54%). Just more than one quarter now say they lean to the Israeli side in the Mideast conflict (26%), up from one fifth in December 2012, at the time of the UN resolution granting Palestine observer status (22%), and also up from previously (July 2012 - 16%). During this time, support for the Palestinian side has stayed relatively stable (17% in July 2012, 15% in December 2012 and 17% now). Very few Canadians have no opinion (3%). A disposition to the Israeli side is characteristic of the oldest (34%), males (36%), in Ontario (30%), the prairies (31%) and Alberta (33%), especially among Conservative voters (51%), among Christians (30%), both Protestant denominations (36%) and especially Evangelicals (67%) but not especially Catholics (22%). Anglophones are more supportive of Israel (29%) than are Francophones (17%).

Two thirds say Canada should support neither side in Gaza

Two thirds of voters want Canada to stay neutral in the Gaza conflict, supporting neither side (66%), while one fifth think Israel deserves Canada's support (21%) and half this proportion thinks the Palestinian side deserves our backing (10%). Once again, very few have no opinion on this volatile subject (3%). The demographic make up of those who think Canada should support Israel is very similar to those noted above.

Majority disagrees with Harper's support for Israel

Just more than half disagree with Prime Minister Harper's unwavering support for Israel in the current Gaza conflict (51%), while 3-in-10 agree (30%) and as many as one fifth have no opinion (18%). Once again, the same pattern of support for Israel emerges; older males in Ontario and the western provinces who vote Conservative, with an emphasis on Evangelical Christians.

More say opinions of Israel, Palestine have worsened than improved

More than one third of Canadian voters say their opinion of Israel has worsened since the beginning of the Gaza conflict (34%) and this is more than twice as many as say their opinion has improved (14%). The plurality say their opinion hasn't changed (41%) and a tenth have no opinion (11%). In turn, 3-in-10 say their opinion of the Palestinians has worsened (31%) and half as many say it has improved (14%). Once again, the plurality says no opinions changed (44%) and a tenth have no opinion (11%).

Few feel Israel's recent invasion, the longstanding Gaza blockade, or Hamas rockets are justified

When asked whether they felt a series of events were justified or not, one half disagree that Israel's recent attack on Gaza was justified (49%), while just 3-in-10 think it was (30%). There is a split in opinion on whether the longstanding Israeli blockade of Gaza is justified (36%) or not (33%). While three quarters disagree Hamas rocket fire was justified to protest the blockade (73%) while just one tenth agree it was justified in the circumstances (10%).  

Plurality disagrees Hamas responsible for civilian casualties

The plurality disagree that all civilian and child casualties in Gaza can be laid at the feet of Hamas (41%), whereas 3-in-10 take the more extreme position and agree Hamas is responsible (30%). 

Plurality agrees Israel's response out of proportion

By the same token, the plurality agree that Israel's response in Gaza was out of proportion to the damage caused by Hamas rockets (42%), while just a quarter disagree with this notion (25%).

"While grassroots support for Israel has been growing in Canada over the last few years, Canadians are very fair people, and prefer balance in our foreign affairs rather than extreme allegiances. There is a lot of concern in Canada that Israel has stepped over a line in the violence of its operation against Hamas in Gaza. A majority of Canadians do not agree with the Prime Minister’s stance and they don't buy the line that Hamas is solely responsible for all civilian casualties," said Forum Research President, Dr. Lorne Bozinoff.

Lorne Bozinoff, Ph.D. is the president and founder of Forum Research. He can be reached at or at (416) 960-9603.