Americans Support Israel's 'Fence'
– Most say Jewish state has right to proceed even if international court objects –
Most Americans support Israel's right to build security barriers to help reduce the number of Palestinian bombings and other terrorist attacks inside Israel, according to a national public opinion survey conducted late last month.
Fully two-thirds of the public (68%) agree that “Israel has the right to take action to defend itself by building a security fence, even if many other countries disagree.” Only 22% of the public disagree. The rest say it depends (2%) or don't know (8%).
Even when the principal argument of the fence's opponents is mentioned – concern that the fence would encroach on land belonging to Palestinians – a majority of Americans (51%) say the fence is justified; 32% disagree, 2% say it depends, and 15% percent don't know.
In response to charges that the fence is illegal, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague is expected to begin hearings on February 23. More than one-quarter of Americans (26%) believe that the ICJ is likely to be biased against Israel, while fewer (12%) say the court is likely to be biased against the Palestinians. Forty-six percent think that it will be fair and objective in its ruling.
Nevertheless, fully 57% of the public say that Israel “has the right to proceed with construction even if the international court opposes it,” while 34% say it does not have the right to continue the construction if the court objects.
“The Bush Administration has wisely joined more than two-dozen other countries in opposing the court taking up this matter,” said ARNSI deputy director Frank Gaffney. Added Cliff May, also an Arnsi Deputy Director: “Most Americans recognize that Israel and other democratic nations have a right to defend themselves – not least by erecting non-violent terrorism prevention barriers.”
These findings come from a random-sample national opinion poll conducted by the Alliance for Research on National Security Issues (ARNSI) — a joint project of the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies and Center for Security Policy. The survey interviews were conducted January 23-25 for ARNSI by Ipsos-Public Affairs, one of America's leading independent polling organizations”
The margin of error for the numbers reported range from plus or minus 3.0 – 4.5 percentage points, depending on whether the question was asked of the full sample of 1,003 respondents or of a randomly selected one-half of the full sample. The two questions referencing the International court at The Hague were asked of the full sample. The other questions were asked of half the sample. As in all surveys, other factors besides sampling fluctuations can also affect the results.