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46 per cent of UK public oppose boycotts of Israel

What happened: 46 per cent of the British public oppose boycotts of Israel and 19 per cent feel warm towards Israel, according to the 2019 annual survey of UK public attitudes carried out by Populus on behalf of BICOM.

  • Opposition to boycotts of Israel has decreased by 2 percentage points compared to 2018 and warmth towards Israel has decreased by one percentage point compared to 2018.
  • 21 per cent of people feel warm towards the Palestinians, a decrease of 2 percentage points compared to 2018.
  • Warmth toward Turkey has decreased significantly from 24 per cent in 2018 to 16 per cent in 2019, its lowest rating since the survey began.
  • 14 per cent of people support boycotts of Israel and disagree with the statement ‘I don’t boycott goods or products from Israel and find it hard to understand why others would’, this figure is unchanged compared to 2018.

Context: Populus surveyed a nationally representative sample of 2026 GB adults from 1-3 November 2019 on behalf of BICOM. The annual survey asks questions about countries and non-state actors in the Middle East with specific questions about trade, counterterrorism and boycotts of Israel.

  • BICOM CEO James Sorene said: “In a highly volatile political environment, the most striking feature of these results is their stability.” He adds that: “Perhaps the real story is the large drop in support for Turkey, no doubt a reaction to the Turkish invasion of northern Syria which took place just two weeks before the survey was carried out. Iranian violations of the 2015 nuclear deal and the seizure of a UK flagged tanker in July also appear to have had an impact with 1 in 5 people saying Iran is a significant threat to the security of the UK, an increase of 4 percentage points since last year.”

Other key findings:

  • 20 per cent of people believe that Iran is a significant threat to the security of the UK, an increase of 4 percentage points compared to 2018.
  • Israel is considered to be Britain’s third most important trading partner in the Middle East, with 48 per cent answering Saudi Arabia, 37 per cent answering Qatar, and 36 per cent answering Israel. Turkey was selected by 31 per cent.
  • Israel is considered to be Britain’s most important ally in the fight against terrorism compared to other Middle Eastern countries, with 44 per cent answering Israel, 43 per cent answering Saudi Arabia, 35 per cent answering Turkey, 33 per cent answering Egypt.
  • 45 per cent of those surveyed agreed that it is antisemitic to hate Israel and question its right to exist. 36 per cent said they don’t know, and 18 per cent disagreed

Opposition to boycotts of Israel has fallen compared to 2018 among the 18-24 age cohort, from 45 per cent to 37 per cent. Although this is still a higher figure than the previous low of 28 per cent in 2015.