Israel's support still solid in U.S.

Most Americans think that pressuring Israel to make concessions to the Palestinians isn't the right response to terrorist attacks against the United States, a new poll shows.

That would only encourage more terrorism, said 61.5 percent of those responding to a scientific survey conducted by pollsters McLaughlin and Associates and sponsored by the Chicago Sun-Times and the New Atlantic Initiative, based at the Washington think tank the American Enterprise Institute.

The findings show that the public believes the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is related to the terrorism, but isn't the main reason for the Sept. 11 attacks.

"This is a case where the public is really quite wise," said Charles Lipson, director of the University of Chicago's Program on International Politics, Economics and Security. "The connection between the terrorists and the Israel/Palestine conflict is real, but it is not a primary connection. [The terrorists'] main concern is to drive all Westerners out of the entire Muslim world, a very extreme view."

The survey found public opinion heavily weighted toward strong U.S. support for Israel--just under 73 percent. Under 10 percent said pressing Israel to surrender territory and divide Jerusalem would end terrorism.

Susan Herbst, who chairs the political science department at Northwestern University, said most polls indicate a general pro-Israel feeling in the population, and this one shows that support has not waned.

"And it's getting pushed a little bit more toward Israel now that it seems even more threatened than usual," Herbst said.

The poll found more than 82 percent thought terrorist attacks inside this country would continue even if Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network is defeated.

In a sign of how broadly the Sept. 11 attacks affected Americans, more than 12 percent said someone in their household had a relative, friend or business associate who was killed or injured.

The pollsters, who surveyed 1,000 U.S. citizens from Oct. 12 -14, said the survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

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