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One in Four Lebanese Holds U.S. Primarily Responsible for Israel/Hezbollah Conflict

One in Four Lebanese Holds U.S. Primarily Responsible for Israel/Hezbollah Conflict

by Richard Burkholder


Forty percent of all Lebanese say that Israel bears the most responsibility for last summer's conflict with Hezbollah, which killed over 1,500 people and severely damaged Lebanese infrastructure. But of the five entities listed in the survey, the next most likely to be assigned primary culpability, according to Gallup World Poll data collected in September and October 2006, is not Hezbollah (18%), Iran (8%), or Syria (5%) -- it is the United States (24%). In fact, among the country's Shiites, primary responsibility is attributed nearly as often to the United States as it is to Israel (42% vs. 49%, respectively). 

The perceptions of Lebanon's Christian community are more varied. Roughly one Christian in three (36%) places primary blame for the conflict on Israel, one in four (25%) faults Hezbollah, and roughly one in six (17%) holds the United States primarily responsible.

Beyond the attribution of primary responsibility, however, at least a third of all Lebanese say they believe each of these five actors bears "a great deal of responsibility" for the conflict. Eighty-one percent of the Lebanese people say this applies to Israel, 67% to the United States, 36% to Hezbollah, 34% to Iran, and 34% to Syria.

Few Lebanese (2%) say they think Israel was justified in using all the military action it took following Hezbollah's kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers (and the killing of three others) in early July. About one-quarter (24%) say that "Israel was justified in taking some military action, but went too far." However, the preponderant view, held by 70% of Lebanese, is that none of Israel's subsequent military response was justifiable.

Survey Methods

Results are based on face-to-face interviews conducted between Sep. 18 and Oct. 12, 2006, with a randomly selected national sample of 1,000 Lebanese adults, aged 18 and older. For results based on these samples, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is ±3 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

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