UK – Majority of UK citizens see Israel as closest ally in Mideast
THE JEWISH CHRONICLE – Israel is still considered Britain’s strongest Middle East ally – with more British people believing this to be the case than last year, a poll has revealed. Fifty-seven per cent of British citizens saw Israel as a leading ally, up from 52 per cent last year.
The online survey, commissioned annually by Bicom – the Israel and Middle East think-tank – investigated the attitudes of more than 2,000 British adults.
It found that more than half (51 per cent) of people do not boycott Israeli goods, up eight per cent from last year’s findings. Fifty-six per cent said a boycott hurts both Palestinians and Israelis.
Asked whether hating Israel and questioning its right to exist was antisemitic, 48 per cent believed it was, while 20 per cent believed it was not. But overall, 57 per cent of people said that simply criticising Israel was not antisemitic.
British warmth towards Israel, the survey said, “remains stable” at 19 per cent, while 24 per cent of people felt warmth towards Israelis; this was in comparison to 20 per cent feeling warmth towards Palestinians.
James Sorene, Bicom chief executive, said: “Our poll shows a very significant shift against the idea of boycotting Israel. The majority opposing it has increased by as much as eight per cent over the past year.
“In a year where we have seen several public figures attempt to explain their hatred of Israel as a political position, the judgement of the British people is stark.
“They clearly understand that hating Israel and questioning its right to exist is antisemitism, pure and simple.”
Mark Regev, Israel’s ambassador to the UK, said: “Today’s results affirm the strong ties between our two countries. It is encouraging that more than ever, Britons view Israel as their strongest ally in the region. Equally important, most people correctly believe that demonisation of Israel is in fact anti-Semitic, and must not be tolerated”.
Board of Deputies President Jonathan Arkush said: “This poll shows that a majority of Britons find Israel’s demonisation to be wrong and also consider Israel to be the UK’s strongest ally in the Middle East. British people have seen through the sour and destructive pro-Palestinian lobby. This is a salutary lesson for those who continue to offend the British sense of fair play with their violent and intimidatory tactics.”
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