On the eve of the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, polling commissioned by a UK think tank has revealed support for Israel in Britain is at a seven-year high.
The poll, carried out by Populus for BICOM, asked respondents for their views on a range of issues relating to Israel and the Israel-Palestine conflict. Thirty-eight percent of voters thought Britain’s issuing of the famous declaration in 1917 was the right decision, whilst only 17 percent disagreed.
The poll was commissioned on the eve of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to London to celebrate the declaration, which recognised the Jewish people’s right to a national homeland in Palestine.
Further questions were asked on UK-Israel relations and the BDS movement. Forty-six percent of respondents agreed with the statement that “Hating Israel and questioning its right to exist is antisemitic”, with only 17 percent disagreeing.
Despite London being seen as a hub of the BDS movement due to anti-Israel sentiment on some university campuses, support for a boycott of the Jewish state remains a fringe view. Forty-eight percent of respondents agreed with the statement “I don’t boycott goods or produce from Israel and find it difficult to understand why others would single out Israel to boycott given everything else that’s going on in the world.” Only 11 percent disagreed. There was no significant discrepancy between age groups, disproving the notion than younger Brits are more anti-Israel than their elders.
However, despite rejecting the key campaign planks of the anti-Israel movement, most Britons do not hold openly positive feelings towards Israel. Just 21 percent of those surveyed said they felt “warm” towards Israel, whilst 50% felt “cold”. This is significantly lower than the warmth expressed towards the USA, but similar to Turkey and far higher than Iran.
On trade and counter-terrorism, Brits see Israel as an important ally. Forty-nine percent of the British public sees Israel as “an important ally of Britain in the fight against terror”, with only 18 percent disagreeing. Israel is seen as Britain’s fourth most important Middle-Eastern trading partner post-Brexit, after Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey.
The results were welcomed by the CEO of BICOM, James Sorene, as evidence of “a significant silent majority who support Zionism in Britain today”.