Federations Survey: Just 28% of Americans Support Unconditional Ceasefire

Five months after Hamas’s brutal, horrific, and unprovoked attacks against Israel on October 7th, Americans’ support for Israel’s efforts to destroy Hamas remain steadfast, according to a Jewish Federations of North America survey.

Just 28% of Americans support an unconditional ceasefire that would leave Hamas in power and the hostages in their hands. That figure is only slightly up from the 20% who said the same in the first weeks of the war. Among American Jews, the figure stands at only 11%.

“Despite the length of the war, and unrelenting biased media coverage, Americans understand that Israel’s fight against terrorism is also our fight. They know that a ceasefire without the return of the hostages and the eventual defeat of Hamas is wrong for Israel, wrong for Americans and wrong for the free world,” said Jewish Federations President and CEO Eric Fingerhut. “The deep bond between the American and Israeli people remains as strong as ever despite the difficult political challenges of the past six months.”

The survey was conducted by text message between February 23 and March 11, 2024, had a sample size of 1,901 American Jews and 4,143 American non-Jews, and was weighted to reflect the general population. Overall margin of error is ± 1.26% for the general US population and ± 2.25% for Jewish Adults. 

The survey’s release comes on the heels of an Iranian attack on Israel over the weekend. Nearly all of the drones and missiles launched by Iran were intercepted by Israel, with help from the United States, Great Britain, and Jordan. The same day, Hamas rejected Israel’s latest ceasefire proposal.

The top priorities for Americans in a ceasefire deal are the release of Israeli hostages (51%), removal of Hamas from government (44%), and disarmament of the group (43%). American Jews chose the same priorities, but in far greater numbers (80%, 73%, and 67%, respectively).

Ten times as many Americans support Israel over Hamas, even though Americans, including Jewish Americans, also showed that they have a great deal of empathy for the plight of Palestinians caught in this terrible situation, with similar amounts saying they empathize with Israelis and Palestinians.

Despite the ongoing support for Israel, news of the war has taken a deep, emotional toll on the American Jewish community, among whom 92% said the war was emotionally affecting them somewhat or greatly. That figure is up 5 points from October, likely driven by the rise in antisemitism in the US. Among the general public, the figure fell 11 points to 48%.

The increased emotional toll is likely linked to the rapid rise in antisemitism, which has had implications for many Jews’ sense of security. American Jews are nearly twice as likely to say they felt at least somewhat concerned for their personal safety (58%) as the general population (32%). Among those feeling very concerned or concerned all the time, the rate is nearly triple (31% of Jews and 13% of the general population).

Those figures have eased slightly since October, when Jews said they were 71% likely to feel at least somewhat concerned and 42% very concerned and concerned all the time.

But Jews who wore “distinctively Jewish” items were nearly 3 times as likely to report being concerned for their safety “all the time” as Jews who did not.​

In October, these fears likely fueled a trend of 25% of Jews hiding distinctively Jewish items such as yarmulkes and Jewish stars. In the months that have passed, a significant majority of those who previously reported hiding these items (66%) have decided to return to wearing these items. That leaves roughly 8% who continue to feel uncomfortable displaying these Jewish articles.

“The significant investments we have made to secure our communities through our LiveSecure initiative are making a difference,” said Fingerhut. “Despite the horrific spike in antisemitism, the security infrastructure we have built has helped reassure people that they can keep living their Jewish communal lives.”

Large majorities of American Jews said they continue to feel strong emotional bonds to Israel (79%) and that it makes them proud to be Jewish (72%). Among the 29% of American Jews who didn’t feel comfortable supporting Israel in public, over two-thirds (68%) said it was because they were concerned about being the target of antisemitism.

Interestingly, the few explicit Hamas supporters were the most comfortable being vocal about their positions, with 83% saying they were very or somewhat comfortable expressing their views publicly. That figure is 14 points higher than those who identified as supporting Israel, and 20 points higher than those who said they support Palestine.

“It is so important for us to understand the real needs and sentiments of the public around Israel and the war so that we can respond appropriately based on facts and data,” said Jewish Federations of North America Chief Impact and Growth Officer Mimi Kravetz. “We look forward to bringing this data to Federations and partners so that they can further mobilize local resources to provide education, security, and advocacy tools for our communities in the wake of  the events of October 7th.”

The SMS text-based survey was fielded by Benenson Strategy Group and funded by and developed in partnership with, The Diane and Guilford Glazer Foundation.

Click here to view the slides and here to see the topline data.