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Morning Consult Counter/Consensus: Israel-Hamas-Palestine Special Edition, May 30, 2024

May 30, 2024 edition
May 30, 2024 at 5:00 am UTC

Morning Consult Counter/Consensus is a biweekly briefing that leverages our global analysis and Political Intelligence data to spotlight counter-consensus takes on major (geo)political developments, and affirm consensus views on issues for which data has been scarce in public discourse or otherwise adds value. The briefing is intended to facilitate corporate scenario planning, market and asset price forecasting, and public sector decision-making. Clients are welcome to reach out directly with questions. You can subscribe here.

This special edition focuses exclusively on global views of Israel, Hamas and Palestine as the conflict moves beyond the six-month mark.

Key Takeaways

  • Israel (Counter): The Rafah campaign has had little impact on views of Israel

  • Hamas (Consensus): Global favorability toward Hamas has not dramatically improved since the conflict began

  • Palestine (Consensus): Where views of Hamas are positive, they are even more so toward Palestine

  • Comparative Perspectives (Counter): The improvement in Palestine’s global standing is more relative than absolute

1. Israel (Counter)

Down and out? Israel’s reputation remains solidly underwater in nearly all countries where we track public views of it on a daily basis: As of late May 2024, the United States is the only major Western country where the public continues to hold net favorable views of Israel. And even there, support is tepid.

Regional Views: Favorability Toward Israel

Regional average net favorability among adults
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Source: Morning Consult Political Intelligence. Data points represent monthly rollup of daily surveys conducted in May 2024. Net favorability is the share of respondents holding favorable views of the indicated country minus the share holding unfavorable views.

For Netanyahu, this dire portrait represents the culmination of a six-month slide in global favorability toward Israel since the onset of its war with Hamas in October 2023: Per data across the 42 markets where we track views of Israel, global average net favorability toward it has fallen by roughly 25 points since the war began. 

Regional Views: Favorability Toward Israel

Net favorability among adults
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Source: Morning Consult Political Intelligence. Data points represent monthly rollup of daily surveys, averaged across all countries in which we track views of Israel. Net favorability is the share of respondents holding favorable views of the indicated country minus the share holding unfavorable views.

With little variation, these global trends are mirrored regionally, with all regions showing a decline in net favorability of similar magnitude. While views of Israel are the most depressed in MENA (to no one’s great surprise), Europe is not far behind.  

Regional Views: Favorability Toward Israel

Regional average net favorability among adults
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Source: Morning Consult Political Intelligence. Data points represent monthly rollup of daily surveys, averaged across all countries in the indicated region in which we track views of Israel. Net favorability is the share of respondents holding favorable views of the indicated country minus the share holding unfavorable views. Gray lines represent global average views.

On the global stage, the conflict has also coincided with a marked shift in the intensity of public sentiment, again to Israel’s detriment: Most of the downswing in net favorability that we’ve observed since September 2023 has been caused by a nearly 20 point increase in the average share of global adults holding “very unfavorable” views of Israel, whereas the share holding “somewhat unfavorable” views has remained relatively flat.

Global Views: Favorability Toward Israel

Global average favorability among adults
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Source: Morning Consult Political Intelligence. Data points represent monthly rollup of daily surveys, averaged across all countries in which we track views of Israel.

What is striking at the current stage of the conflict — marked by the onset and intensification of Israel’s ground campaign in Rafah from May 6 onwards — is that the campaign itself does not appear to have shifted public sentiment very much. During the month of May, global average views of Israel have held steady, suggesting that global public opinion toward it is not currently mirroring the heightened outrage emanating from many Western capitals.

Nor has Israel’s Rafah campaign seemed to especially enervate publics in MENA or APAC — another region with large Muslim populations concentrated in several countries — suggesting that discontent over the conflict among those populations may have plateaued for the moment. This may be because most people paying attention with malleable views have already changed them. Only in Europe did we see a clear-cut worsening of public views from April into May. And yet even there, the shift in sentiment has been minimal.

As many have noted, global public opinion toward Israel has indeed shifted dramatically since the conflict began. But our data suggests that most of the damage to Israel’s reputation may be in the rearview. Thus far, global censure has failed to constrain Israel’s military action or facilitate negotiations despite predictions to the contrary. We expect this to continue, with one notable exception. If public opinion in the United States were to degrade further, exerting pressure on Netanyahu via the Biden administration, Israel would likely take note due to the central role of U.S. support. 

2. Hamas (Counter)

Steady as she goes. We have also tracked global views of Hamas on a daily basis since shortly after the conflict began. As one would expect, the majority of countries exhibit net-negative views of the group as of late May. Net favorable views toward Hamas are largely concentrated in a handful of countries with large Muslim populations — Egypt, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, and the UAE — with an outlier, China, rounding out the list. Israelis meanwhile hold the most negative views.

Global Views: Favorability Toward Hamas

Favorability among adults
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Source: Morning Consult Political Intelligence. Data points represent monthly rollup of daily surveys conducted in May 2024. Net favorability is the share of respondents holding favorable views of the indicated country minus the share holding unfavorable views.

Trend-wise, our data indicates that global favorability toward Hamas has remained relatively flat since the conflict began, in line with other assessments made shortly after the war’s onset. While we have seen a very modest improvement in global average favorability toward Hamas on a net basis over the past six months, the trend has been driven by a slight decline in the share of global adults holding “very unfavorable” views of it. These dynamics suggest that Hamas is not showing signs of winning over public sentiment the longer the conflict goes on.

Global Views: Favorability Toward Hamas

Global average favorability among adults
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Source: Morning Consult Political Intelligence. Data points represent monthly rollup of daily surveys, averaged across all countries in which we track views of Israel.

As was the case with Israel, global trends in sentiment toward Hamas are largely mirrored at the regional level, with most regions showing a slight increase in net favorability toward the group relative to October 2023, when we first began tracking it.

Regional Views: Favorability Toward Hamas

Regional average net favorability among adults
Morning Consult Logo
Source: Morning Consult Political Intelligence. Data points represent monthly rollup of daily surveys, averaged across all countries in the indicated region in which we track views of Israel. Net favorability is the share of respondents holding favorable views of the indicated country minus the share holding unfavorable views. Gray lines represent global average views..

Perhaps the most interesting regional finding is that while public enthusiasm for Hamas is the most robust in MENA — the only region where favorability has periodically been net-positive since the conflict began — it is also the only region where sentiment has not clearly improved over the past six months.

 

On this front, our data suggests that while some surveys have provided evidence that Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza were growing more supportive of Hamas as of December 2023, the effect has not clearly permeated throughout the broader MENA region. It also suggests that the bump in support for Hamas observed in other regional markets during that same time period — as documented in external survey findings from Saudi Arabia and elsewhere — was more ephemeral than lasting, mirroring the short-term bump we observed in our own MENA data in the early days of the conflict. 

3. Palestine (Counter)

Plus ça change… Comparing across our country-level survey data on views of both Hamas and Palestine — which we ask about instead of the Palestinian Authority to prime sentiment surrounding statehood more so than governance — two main things stand out: (1) a larger number of countries exhibit net favorable sentiment toward Palestine than toward Hamas; and (2) in all countries where the public holds net-positive views of Hamas, views of Palestine are consistently more favorable, with the gap especially pronounced for Saudi Arabia. (Interestingly, among the three European countries that recently recognized Palestinian statehood — Ireland, Norway and Spain — public views are only net-positive in Ireland.)

Global Views: Favorability Toward Palestine

Favorability among adults
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Source: Morning Consult Political Intelligence. Data points represent monthly rollup of daily surveys conducted in May 2024. Net favorability is the share of respondents holding favorable views of the indicated country minus the share holding unfavorable views.

These same trends hold on a regional basis: Comparing the chart below to the regional trends for Hamas presented above, average net favorability of Palestine exceeds that of Hamas by a wide margin (often on the order of 25 points). 

But as was the case with our data on views of Hamas, both regional and global average sentiment toward Palestine (gray lines in figure below) have held relatively steady since the conflict began, showing only modest upticks region by region. In our view, these trends suggest that while Hamas-initiated attacks from October 2023 onwards aren’t clearly winning support for the group’s own war efforts, they are also not garnering dramatically greater support for Palestine.

Regional Views: Favorability Toward Palestine

Regional average net favorability among adults
Morning Consult Logo
Source: Morning Consult Political Intelligence. Data points represent monthly rollup of daily surveys, averaged across all countries in the indicated region in which we track views of Israel. Net favorability is the share of respondents holding favorable views of the indicated country minus the share holding unfavorable views. Gray lines represent global average views.

Among young people ages 18-24 — a group which has taken the lead in protesting Israel’s actions in Gaza — our data affirms that support for Palestine is much higher on average. But trends among this group follow very similar patterns regionally, with only small increases in favorability toward Palestine. There are specific exceptions worth noting. In the United States, for example, Gen Zers’ views of Palestine reached a tracking high on the heels of pro-Palestinian campus protests across the country in April 2024. But by and large, trends among Gen Zers and the average adult converge more than they diverge. 

United States: Favorability Toward Palestine

Net favorability among adults ages 18-24
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Source: Morning Consult Political Intelligence. The green line represent a 15-day simple moving average of daily surveys while the gold line represents a 30-day simple moving average. “Net favorability” is the share who hold favorable views of the indicated country minus the share who hold unfavorable views.

We’ll be the first to note that these findings should be interpreted cautiously. “Palestine” can mean different things to different groups of people. And in the minds of survey respondents who are less familiar with the conflict, Palestine and Hamas may not always be viewed as sufficiently distinct to prime meaningful differences across them, let alone prime the concept of Palestinian statehood.

We nevertheless interpret the gaps in levels of favorability toward Hamas and Palestine as implying a relatively clear-eyed rejection of Hamas’ approach to the conflict at present, even if six-month trends lend themselves to a more ambiguous interpretation. 

4. Comparative Perspectives (Consensus)

It’s all relative. Taken together, where do these findings leave us with respect to the balance of sentiment surrounding the conflict?

In our view, if there is one major shift in sentiment that’s worth highlighting, it’s that global average public opinion is now substantially more favorable toward Palestine than toward Israel, whereas net favorability toward each was roughly tied at the start of the conflict. In parallel, the average adult now holds equally negative views of both Israel and Hamas. And net favorability of Palestine at present roughly matches that of Israel at the outset of the war.

Global Views: Favorability Toward Hamas, Israel, and Palestine

Global average net favorability among adults
Morning Consult Logo
Source: Morning Consult Political Intelligence. Data points represent monthly rollup of daily surveys, averaged across all countries in which we track views of Israel. Net favorability is the share of respondents holding favorable views of the indicated country minus the share holding unfavorable views.

These patterns — i.e. higher favorability toward Palestine relative to Israel and Hamas — also hold regionally with the exception of the Americas, suggesting that momentum is on the side of Palestine almost any way you cut it.

Regional Views: Favorability Toward Hamas, Israel, and Palestine

Regional average net favorability among adults
Morning Consult Logo
Source: Morning Consult Political Intelligence. Data points represent monthly rollup of daily surveys, averaged across all countries in the indicated region in which we track views of Israel. Net favorability is the share of respondents holding favorable views of the indicated country minus the share holding unfavorable views.

At the same time, the argument that favorability toward Palestine is on the upswing globally (see trend lines two charts up) holds almost exclusively in a relative sense: Were it not for a marked decline in Israel’s global average standing since last September, Palestine would not be in the lead as far as favorability is concerned.

We view this distinction as important in light of external analysis suggesting how strongly public views toward Palestine have shifted in recent months. In some sense, our data suggests they very much remain the same.

 

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A headshot photograph of Jason McMann
Jason McMann
Head of Political Intelligence

Jason I. McMann leads geopolitical risk analysis at Morning Consult. He leverages the company’s high-frequency survey data to advise clients on how to integrate geopolitical risk into their decision-making. Jason previously served as head of analytics at GeoQuant (now part of Fitch Solutions). He holds a Ph.D. from Princeton University’s Politics Department. Follow him on Twitter @jimcmann. Interested in connecting with Jason to discuss his analysis or for a media engagement or speaking opportunity? Email [email protected].

A headshot photograph of Sonnet Frisbie
Sonnet Frisbie
Deputy Head of Political Intelligence

Sonnet Frisbie is the deputy head of political intelligence and leads Morning Consult’s geopolitical risk offering for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Prior to joining Morning Consult, Sonnet spent over a decade at the U.S. State Department specializing in issues at the intersection of economics, commerce and political risk in Iraq, Central Europe and sub-Saharan Africa. She holds an MPP from the University of Chicago.

Follow her on Twitter @sonnetfrisbie. Interested in connecting with Sonnet to discuss her analysis or for a media engagement or speaking opportunity? Email [email protected].

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