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Obama’s ‘1967’ Comments Prompt Social Media Backlash

In case there was any remaining doubt that President Obama’s statements on the 1967 lines were out of step with the American people, the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellent in Journalism found that an overwhelming percentage of social media users sided with Israel on the issue:

By almost a 3-to-1 margin, bloggers and users of Twitter and Facebook expressed strong support for Israel over the Palestinians in the week following President Obama’s May 19 address on the Middle East, according to an analysis of social media conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism. Many of those expressing support also took President Obama to task for suggesting that peace in the region would best be achieved by creating a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders.

The survey found that 60 percent of the Twitter/Facebook conversations about the president’s speech were pro-Israel. Twenty percent were pro-Palestinian, and 20 percent were “neutral” (i.e. giving a news update with no opinion attached).

According to the PEJ, these findings were unusual. With other contentious political topics the group has studied – such as the Ground Zero mosque and the 2010 election – opinions were more evenly divided.

But the survey results do correspond with the latest Gallup opinion polling, which has found that 63 percent of Americans sympathize more with Israelis, and 17 percent sympathize more with the Palestinians.

The PEJ numbers may also have some political implications for Obama. They indicate that politically-aware social media users – a prime demographic for the president’s 2012 reelection campaign – overwhelmingly side with Israel. And according to PEJ, these Israel supporters were very critical of Obama’s position on the 1967 borders:

Social media users who sided with Israel criticized Obama for not backing the U.S. ally strongly enough and consequently not upholding American values. Many used phrases suggesting Obama had “thrown Israel under the bus” or “stabbed Israel in the back.”

This is something the president may want to keep in mind next time he’s tempted to snub America’s closest ally.


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