Half of U.S. Muslims say Hamas has valid reasons to fight Israel

Anti-Israel rally at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Oct. 2023

(JNS) — Regardless of how they feel about Oct. 7, almost half of U.S. Muslim adults (49 percent) say that Hamas had “valid” reasons to fight Israel, and 21 percent of that demographic said that Hamas’s terror attack on Oct. 7 was either “completely acceptable” (10 percent) or “somewhat acceptable” (11 percent).

That’s according to new data from the Pew Research Center, based on a survey of 12,693 American adults between Feb. 13 and Feb. 25.

“Unlike most nationally representative polling in the United States since the war began, our survey includes enough Jewish and Muslim respondents to allow their views to be analyzed separately,” Pew stated in a release. (The survey, which is oversampled for Jews and Muslims, has a margin of error of 1.5 percentage points in either direction.)

While more than one in five American Muslim adults said that it was at least “somewhat acceptable” that Hamas — which the United States has designated a terrorist organization for 27 years — attacked the Jewish state on Oct. 7, just about 5 percent of U.S. adults overall thought that. Three percent of U.S. Jewish adults said that Hamas’s attack was acceptable.

Nearly three in four (73 percent) American adults said that the way Hamas carried out its Oct. 7 attack was unacceptable, with 66 percent saying Hamas’s reasons were “completely unacceptable.”

An overwhelming majority (89 percent) of American Jews said that Israel was justified in going to war against Hamas, compared to 18 percent of U.S. Muslims. While 49 percent of Muslim Americans said that Hamas has valid reasons to attack Israel, just 16 percent of American Jews said that.

Well over half (62 percent) of American Jews and 5 percent of Muslim Americans said Israel’s war in Gaza is acceptable, while 68 percent of American Muslims said it was unacceptable.

American adults overwhelmingly support Washington providing humanitarian aid to Gaza (50 percent in favor, 19 percent opposed), while 36 percent favor the United States providing Israel with military aid and 34 percent do not.

Republicans and Democrats are divided greatly on the war, according to Pew data.

More than half (52 percent) of Democrats and independents who lean Democrat say that Israel’s response to Oct. 7 is unacceptable, while 17 percent of Republicans and right-leaning independents said that.

Just under a quarter of Democrats (24 percent) — down from 35 percent in 2022 — have favorable views of the Israeli government overall, compared to 63 percent of Republicans. Some 23 percent of Americans had a favorable view of the Palestinian Authority.

A majority of Democrats and Republicans does not favor a two-state solution, according to Pew data. Just under half (48 percent) of Democrats and 33 percent of Republicans want an independent Palestinian state. More than a quarter (26 percent) of Republicans — up from 18 percent in 2022 — favor a single state run by Israel.

Americans under the age of 30 represented the only group in which less than half (38 percent) said that Israel had a valid reason to fight Hamas. A similar number (34 percent) of those under 30 said that Hamas had valid reasons to fight Israel.

Only 3 percent of American adults surveyed said that it was “extremely” or “very” likely that there will be lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.