Poll: Vast Majority of Americans Unfamiliar With BDS Campaign Against Israel
The vast majority of Americans have heard nothing or very little of the international campaign to boycott Israel, according to polling released by the Pew Research Center on Thursday.
Of all US adults surveyed, 84 percent heard nothing at all (53%) or not much (31%) about the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign, which tries to influence public opinion against Israel. Conversely, 15 percent of respondents heard some (12%) or a lot (3%) about it.
The minority of respondents who heard at least some about the BDS campaign were then asked to give opinion of it. In total, five percent of American adults said they somewhat (3%) or strongly (2%) back the effort, while six percent oppose it, the majority strongly (5%).
Some variation was seen based on political, religious, and age differences. The BDS campaign was most popular among atheists, 13 percent of whom supported it, and most disliked by those who identify as Republicans or lean that way, with 12 percent opposing.
The survey was carried out between March 7-13, and included a total of 10,441 respondents, with a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 1.5 percentage points.
Founded in 2005, the BDS campaign seeks to garner international support for isolating Israel, with the stated aim of securing justice and equality for Palestinians. Its leadership opposes a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, having denounced the establishment and continued existence of a Jewish state in Israel, and expressed support for replacing it with a single, Arab-majority state.
Although it is largely unknown among the general American public, the BDS campaign — which has been condemned for fostering antisemitism by leading Jewish communal groups and figures worldwide — is much more familiar among the Jewish community. A survey of American Jews carried out by Pew Research Center in 2020 found that 56 percent of respondents heard some or a lot about the BDS campaign, versus 43 percent who did not hear much or anything about it at all.
Of the Jewish respondents who were aware of the BDS campaign, 43 percent strongly or somewhat opposed it, while 10 percent strongly or somewhat supported it. Jews affiliated with a particular branch of Judaism, including Reform, Conservative, or Orthodox, were more likely to reject the campaign than Jews with no particular affiliation.
Overall, 82 percent of that survey’s respondents described caring about Israel as an essential or important part of being Jewish.
While the BDS campaign has failed to have a notable economic impact to date, it has made inroads among progressive activist groups and led some artists to back out of performing in Israel. It has also gained traction on American university campuses, drawing support from some student governments and faculty members, though administrations have largely rejected it on the basis of academic freedom.