Survey Gauges U.S. Attitudes Toward Israel

Some 43 percent of Americans believe Israel is a threat to world peace, according to a poll presented Wednesday by a Jewish group, but many more are concerned about North Korea, Iraq and Iran.

The Anti-Defamation League (search) said its survey showed much less concern about Israel among Americans than a recent poll in Europe, where Israel was at the top of the list of countries perceived as threatening world peace.

The ADL poll showed that 43 percent of Americans believe Israel is a threat to world peace, placing it behind seven other countries. In last month's Eurobarometer (search) poll, 59 percent of Europeans chose Israel, ranking it number one.

North Korea ranked first in the U.S. poll at 77 percent, with Iraq and Iran tied for second at 76 percent. About 37 percent of Americans said the United States itself was the greatest threat.

A Boston-based research firm interviewed 1,200 American adults by phone earlier this month for the ADL. The survey's margin of error was 4 percentage points. The poll was presented during a national security conference in Herzliya attended by Israeli leaders and world figures.

The poll showed about 40 percent of Americans sympathize primarily with Israel in the Mideast conflict, compared to just 15 percent that sympathize with Palestinians, numbers Foxman said have remained consistent since 1991.

About 73 percent said the United States was more likely to be attacked by terrorists because of its support for Israel, but 62 percent who gave that answer said the support should continue anyway.

The poll did not gauge opinion on controversial areas of policy, like Israeli settlements in the West Bank (search) and Gaza Strip (search) or construction of a security barrier in the West Bank, both of which have come under sharp criticism from Palestinians and foreign governments.

"We try to keep our poll consistent with [past years' questions]. This month the fence may be an issue. Next month something else may be an issue," Abraham Foxman, the ADL's director, told The Associated Press.

Foxman, 63, a Holocaust survivor, also said that anti-Semitism around the world is at a higher level than he ever expected to see. The ADL's main mission is fighting anti-Semitism.