Support for Palestine surges in Australia — poll

Protesters march outside the Town Hall in Sydney on 23 February, during a rally against an official visit to Australia by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

David Moir EPA/Newscom

A new poll finds that 55 percent of Australians see boycotting Israeli goods and services as a reasonable way to apply pressure in support of Palestinians rights.

That is up from just 31 percent who expressed support for the boycott of Israel in 2014.

In the same period, the number who said they would not support a boycott of Israel fell from 47 percent to just 25 percent. One in five remains undecided.

Overall, 34 percent of Australians said they sympathize more with the Palestinians than with Israel, an increase from the 27 percent who held that view in 2014.

Fewer Australians (26 percent) said they sympathize more with Israelis than with Palestinians.

The poll was conducted by Roy Morgan Research, Australia’s oldest polling firm, on behalf of the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network and a coalition of groups supporting Palestinian rights. Morgan has conducted regular polls on Australian attitudes on Palestine since 2009.

By a large margin, Australians oppose Israel’s construction of settlements on occupied Palestinian land: 61 percent are against the settlements, while 17 percent support them.

More than half of respondents disapprove of the Australian government’s rejection of UN Security Council Resolution 2334, adopted in December to demand Israel stop settlement activities, which are illegal under international law.

Israel “its own worst enemy”

A general measure of sympathy for the Palestinian cause is the number of Australians who say their country should recognize Palestine as a state. That is now up to 73 percent, from 62 percent in 2011, according to the survey. Just eight percent oppose such recognition.

“What this latest poll shows is that more Australians support the Palestinian position than the Israeli position, and increasingly so,” Peter Manning, a member of the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network executive, told The Electronic Intifada.

Manning, a former head of television news and current affairs at Australia’s public broadcaster ABC, sees Israeli actions as explaining the shift in opinion.

“Israel is its own worst enemy and the more settlements that are built, and the more Palestinian land that is stolen, and the more those actions are reported in the media, the more Australians find that the true victims in the Israel-Palestine dispute are not the Israelis but the Palestinians,” he said. “Thirty years ago it would have been the reverse.”

While still critical of media coverage in Australia, Manning notes that journalists are more willing to describe Palestinian territory as “occupied.” He said this indicates to audiences that “being under occupation is the major cause of resistance for Palestinians and there will be no end to this conflict until the occupation finishes.”

Manning said he’s not surprised at the favorable attitudes that Australians hold towards the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, since targeted boycotts have a long history in political advocacy in the country, including campaigns related to apartheid South Africa and Burma.

In keeping with trends seen in the United States and Canada, the poll shows evidence of a generational split in Australia: only those aged 65 and older were more sympathetic to Israel (37 percent) than to the Palestinians (32 percent).

Government “out of step”

Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, of the conservative Liberal Party, was one of the few world leaders to condemn December’s UN resolution.

“The current government is way out of step with the way Australians think about Palestine,” Manning said. He cites the impact of Australia’s well-organized pro-Israel lobby and notes that Australian business leaders that back the Liberals also favor close ties with Israel.

In February, Turnbull welcomed his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu to Australia.

According to a joint statement, the two leaders “affirmed the importance of bilateral defense cooperation” and committed themselves to the “expansion of trade, investment and commercial links between Australia and Israel.”

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I would like to think these statistics really are reliable, though sadly I doubt very much that many Australians really have views on these issues. Would be interesting to know the sample and the questions that were asked.

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The questions asked can be gleaned from the 2017 poll comparisons with the 2014 poll. See https://apan.org.au/apan-activ...
Secondly, to "sadly doubt" the results of the poll is to question the integrity of the pollster.
Roy Morgan Research is however very highly regarded by Australians. Roy Morgan Research is "certified to the Australian and International quality systems standard AS/NZS ISO 9001 and AS ISO 20252. (Its) Quality Assurance procedures ensure that all (its) systems undergo strict quality control processes to ensure the highest quality research is delivered. It also ensures that (its) obligations under the Privacy Act, as well as all other statutory requirements, are adhered to. Roy Morgan Research has been certified to ISO 9001 since 1995. (Since) 2007, Roy Morgan Research achieved certification to AS ISO 20252 International Market, Opinion and Social Research standard. This standard is specific to the market research industry and encompasses all stages of the research process, from the initial proposal and client communication, through to the delivery and presentation of results". See http://www.roymorgan.com/about...

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Australia is a predominantly Christian society, thus it is timely this Lent to become aware of 50 years of military occupation (1967 – 2017) by Israel in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. “You will declare this fiftieth year to be sacred and proclaim the liberation of all the country’s inhabitants,” Leviticus (25:10). The Pope’s encyclical letter, Laudato Si offers a powerful moral and spiritual imperative for social action. Its themes for a Lenten program include the “need for forthright honest debate” and the “serious responsibility of international and local policy”. During a radio interview the Australian Immigration Minister Hon. Peter Dutton MP on 2GB on Thursday 15 December 2016, said Australia is a "Christian society". Yet now revealing his true spots, the Minister has cancelled the visa granted Bassem Tamimi only days ago. Actions speak louder than words. Petition at change.org under way to re-grant Bassem Tamimi's visa to visit us in peace.

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"According to a joint statement, the two leaders “affirmed the importance of bilateral defense cooperation” and committed themselves to the “expansion of trade, investment and commercial links between Australia and Israel.”

And given the Australian Leader did not support res 2334 , he supports (by default ) the expansion of the Illegal settlements .

Given the inevitability of another attack on Gaza , the number of Australians supporting the Palestinian cause will increase notably.Meanwhile zionist money will keep Australia,s leaders on the wrong side of history.

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I suppose personal money making is important for most of us
But MPs are supposed to be elected because they will vote in parliament for the good of us people that vote for them
Is this why us voters choose our representatives?
Or do we want to put these people in power so they can get paid very good wages, excellent pensions and usually manage to get themselves high paying jobs when they get voted out?

Ali Abunimah

Ali Abunimah's picture

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books.

Also wrote One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Opinions are mine alone.