The American public has long expressed strong support for Israel. In contrast, polls in Western Europe have frequently found more support for the Palestinians. But while they generally take different sides in the conflict, political ideology matters in both America and Europe.
Americans have a mixed view of the war in Gaza, and see it in much the same way as they viewed Israel’s conflict with Hezbollah in 2006. As in the past, Americans express strong support for Israel, but there is limited approval of the current military action. However, Hamas is largely seen as primarily responsible for the outbreak of violence.
Before the current Middle East conflict, Hamas hardly enjoyed universal popularity among Muslims, and among some key Arab publics, its support had been waning.
By all accounts, Barack Obama will be enthusiastically greeted when he travels to Europe. But his trip will take him into less friendly territory in the Middle East where Muslims remain skeptical about the future of U.S. foreign policy, regardless of who is elected in November.
Since 2003, sectarian violence, ambiguous legal protections for religious freedom, and other factors have contributed to a deteriorating situation for Christians and other small religious sects.
Chances for progress at the Middle East conference should be bolstered by the presence of Saudi Arabia, which is viewed as a key ally in much of the Arab world.
Behind the delayed selection of a new president, now scheduled for next week, lie complicated sectarian struggles, many of which do not run along a straight Muslim/Christian fault line.
Turkey is a key strategic U.S. ally but negative views of America are widespread and growing there. Turks also have low opinions of many other nations and groups.
Even in some countries where incomes are still low and life is tough, people tend to be happier with their lives -- if their economy is on the upswing. And, in Muslim countries, support for suicide bombing has declined sharply in recent years. Also, a commentary by Bruce Stokes analyzes factors contributing higher levels of happiness in many countries worldwide.
In an interview with the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, Palestinian scholar Sari Nusseibeh discusses ways in which a settlement could help resolve the larger tensions between Islam and other faiths.