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Analysis

BICOM Populus poll of UK Attitudes to Israel and the Middle East

Populus surveyed a nationally representative sample of 2,026 GB adults from 1 and 3 November 2019 on behalf of the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre. The annual survey asks questions about countries in the Middle East with specific questions about trade, counter terrorism and support for a boycott of Israel.

Below is a summary of the key findings:

Warmth towards Israel: The survey asks respondents to rate their warmth towards countries, people and organisations in the Middle East. Warmth towards Israel is 19 per cent, a 1 point decrease compared to last year. Warmth towards the Palestinians is 21 per cent, a two point decrease compared to last year. Warmth towards Israel and the Palestinians has been largely stable for five years. The UK public feels most warm towards the Palestinians at 21 per cent and least warm towards Iran at 6 per cent. There was an eight point drop in the UK public’s warmth towards Turkey, decreasing from 24 per cent in 2018 to 16 per cent in 2019, the lowest warmth rating for Turkey since we started carrying out this survey.

 

Britain-Israel bilateral trade and cooperation: Saudi Arabia is considered to be the most important UK trading partner in the Middle East after Brexit, Qatar is second and Israel is third. Saudi Arabia and Qatar’s importance as a trade partner decreased by five and three points, respectively, compared to 2018, while Israel dropped two points and Turkey dropped five points. 36 per cent said Israel was an important trading partner, 39 per cent answered ‘don’t know’ and 26 per cent said Israel was unimportant.

 

Britain’s fight against terrorism: 44 per cent of people believe Israel is an important British ally in the fight against terror, more than any other Middle Eastern country in the survey. 37 per cent answered ‘don’t know’ and 19 per cent said Israel was ‘unimportant.

 

Opposition to boycotts of Israel remains high: 46 per cent of respondents do not support boycotts of Israel, a decrease of 2 percentage points compared to 2018. 14 per cent disagree with the statement, so support boycotts of Israel, a figure that remains unchanged compared to 2018.

 

Hating Israel and questioning its right to exist: 45 per cent of the UK public believe that hating Israel and questioning its right to exist is antisemitic, a two point decrease compared to last year. 18 per cent of people disagree with the statement, a two point decrease compared to 2018.

 

Opposition to boycotts of Israel among young people: 37 per cent of young people aged 18-24 do not boycott goods or produce from Israel, a decrease of 8 points compared to 2018.

 

Iran and UK security: Since 2018 there has been a 4 per cent increase in the UK public’s perception of Iran as a significant threat to the security of the UK. In that same time, the UK public’s perception that Iran poses no threat at all to the security of the UK has gone down 7 points, from 23 per cent in 2018 to 16 per cent in 2019.