A June 2023 piece in Jewish Currents discusses a number of polls which measure the extent of criticism of Israel's existence and/or its relation to Palestine within the Jewish population of the United States. A 2020 Pew Research poll found a small but significant base of support for the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement , at 10% overall and 18% for the non-religious. A July 2021 poll by the Jewish Electorate Institute found that 25% agree "Israel is an apartheid state" and 22% agree "Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinians." There are even 9% who agree "Israel doesn't have the right to exist."

What are some comparable data-points for Israel? A list of BDS supporters on Wikipedia includes a dozen or so Israeli intellectuals and public figures, mostly based on statements made back in 2014. Certain Orthodox religious groups with a presence in Israel, such as Neturei Karta and to a lesser degree Satmar, are known for holding anti-Zionist views.

These facts leave me wondering if the overall opposition to Zionism or the occupation of Palestine is significantly greater or smaller in Israel, particularly across major demographic divides like religious versus non-religions and Jewish versus Arab.

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    I suppose the question of what Zionism is may be relevant. Disregarding the more fetid corners of the conspiratorial Internet, where certain people use it as merely a byword for Jews, Zionism can span a variety of political philosophies, from the groups that want to eliminate the entirety of Palestine (or even Palestinians) to those that want an Israeli and Palestinian state side by side. Not all of those ideas are necessarily incompatible with some of the opinions expressed in the question.
    – Obie 2.0
    Oct 25, 2023 at 1:32
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    @BrianZ "Israel doesn't have the right to exist" is also quite fluid, it can mean: 1. "Secular Israel has no right to exist", 2. "Religious based Zionism has no right to exist", 3. "Jewish settlements on former Palestinian land have no right to exist", 4. "Without giving citizenship to area C West Bank Palestinians, Israel has no right to exist", etc. A better question for such a survey would be: "What do you want there to be in place of current modern Israel?" (my guess is that very few will say "modern Israel", the extreme secular will say "Holland" and the others will ask for the Messiah").
    – Jacob3
    Oct 25, 2023 at 10:36
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    @Obie2.0: Personally, I would define "Zionism" as the assumptions that (1) there exists a class of people called "Jews", (2) there exists a country called "Israel", and (3) it is desirable to maximize the number of Jews living in Israel. Of course, there are divisions over the definition of #1 and #2, and the reasons for #3.
    – dan04
    Oct 25, 2023 at 16:50
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    @dan04 - I mean, the first two points are not politics at all, just a recognition of facts. Someone who denies the existence of Jews or Israel is not anti-Zionist or even anti-Semitic, just anti-reality. Even Hamas believes that Jews and Israel exist—their 1988 Convenant even explicitly affirms the existence of the later ("Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it").
    – Obie 2.0
    Oct 25, 2023 at 16:54
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    re: "Certain Orthodox religious groups with a presence in Israel, such as Neturei Karta and to a lesser degree Satmar, are known for holding anti-Zionist views." That's offensive. The connection to the land of Israel is one of the central tenants of Judaism. The fact that some fringe groups try to dismiss its importance doesn't change the mainstream views of Judaism as a religion. Please, rephrase the question in a way that does not challenge the views which are central to Judaism as a religion.
    – wrod
    Mar 30 at 10:29

2 Answers 2


Israel has pretty strong left wing and extreme left wing, as manifested by Israelis support for parties like Hadash, or organizations such as B'Tzelem, Breaking the silence and so on. The extreme left may particularly support one-state solution (popular among European and American left, but contrary to the two-state solution supported internationally by most western and even Arab states.)

This also can be seen from reading mainstream Israeli media, such as Haaretz (the Israeli equivalent of New York Times/Guardian/LeMonde, available in Hebrew and English.)

However, one should not confuse criticizing Israeli government and policies with criticizing "Israel" itself: even the leftiest Israelis do expect that in the end they will live in peace and security alongside Palestinians - none of them is planning to "move back to Poland" or elsewhere, as some Israeli "critics" occasionally suggest. Particularly not those who were born in Israel, especially in second or third generation.

There are also many prominent Israelis, critical of the government, but nevertheless supportive of their country - like Natalie Portman.

One thing to keep in mind is that only 73% of Israelis are of Jewish origin - the rest are mostly Palestinian Arabs and other ethnic groups, such as Druze, Arameans, Armenians, etc. Palestinian Israelis are often critical of their country, as can be seen by their representation in the Parliament, which until recently consistently refused to join any government coalitions. Some of the Arab politician voice publicly the views as extreme as those of BDS like Haneen Zoabi. enter image description here

Political composition
In addition to Palestinian parties, there are also mixed Arab-Israeli party Hadash. There are also Palestinian members of what is traditionally considered Jewish parties - like Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi, who is a member of Meretz, the party of Jewish intellectuals.

The rest of the political spectrum is split among more mainstream left, right, and religious parties (unlike in the US, religious and right-wing views are not necessarily linked - in the past religious parties also took part in left-wing governing coalitions.)

The full breakdown of vote for various parties can be found on Wikipedia: 2022 Israeli legislative election.

It is necessary to note that political participation nearly excludes adopting BDS positions (with some exceptions in the Palestinian Parties and Hadash.) Indeed, Zionism is Jewish movement for national independence, and participating in the political system of the Jewish state means being a Zionist. In this sense opposition to Zionism is opposition to the existence of the Jewish state, a member of the United Nations, recognized by significant number of countries, including all of the western world.

In this sense, the use of terms Zionism and anti-Zionist by BDS, anti-Israeli groups, and some media coverage is misleading, perhaps deliberately so, and the OP seems to be influenced by this use. It is also worth stressing that Zionism from its inception was a secular movement for the creation of the Jewish state, as opposed to the religious imperative to move to the lands granted to Jewish people by the Almighty - in this sense religious Zionism is a misnomer.

Zionism and religion
Naturei Karta is a good example of how Zionism is in contradiction with the religious thought, since it implies that the laws of the state of Israel supersede the Laws of Moses. In a broader sense, there are significant tensions between Israeli governments and the Jewish orthodox religious communities, regarding the military draft of yeshiva students, obligatory education program, interference by social services in child abuse, etc.

This also applies to the settlement activity: evacuating West Bank settlements built without appropriate permissions is also not an uncommon practice (e.g., those outside of the areas designated for building by the Israeli government or on the land not owned by the settlers.)

While Zionism is sometimes used in a very broad sense - to designate any activities associated with Israel and/or Jews, it is largely agreed that anti-Zionism implies opposition to the existence of the Jewish state:

Anti-Zionism is opposition to Zionism. Although anti-Zionism is a heterogeneous phenomenon, all its proponents agree that the creation of the modern State of Israel, and the movement to create a sovereign Jewish state in the region of Palestine – the biblical Land of Israel – was flawed or unjust in some way.

Note that this means opposition to the Jewish right for self-determination, as defined in the UN charter

All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.

Interestingly, some forms of anti-Zionism, notably those favoring one-state solution, also deny self-determination to the Palestinian people (i.e., neither Jewish nor Palestinian state.)

Here is a short selection of articles published by mainstream left-wing daily Haaretz since October 7. The content is behind the paywall, but the titles speak for themselves. One can also read the comments section.
October 8: Editorial | Netanyahu Bears Responsibility for This Israel-Gaza War
October 19 Opinion | The War in Gaza Must Stop Immediately
October 21: Opinion | The Secret to Netanyahu's Gaza Failure: Do Nothing
October 23: Opinion | In Gaza, Israel Is Racing to the Moral Abyss
October 26: Opinion | It Is Forbidden to Even Empathize With Innocent Gazans
December 9: The Israeli Army Has Dropped the Restraint in Gaza, and the Data Shows Unprecedented Killing December 10: Analysis | Netanyahu Must Be Politically Destroyed, or Israel Will Go Down With Him

Here is from the right-wing The Times of Israel:
October 8: Op-ed | For years, Netanyahu propped up Hamas. Now it’s blown up in our faces

I think these qualify as "profound criticism of Israel". Their main distinction with the rhetoric of Israel's critics from abroad is that, while supporting Palestinians and criticizing Israel, Haaretz writers are not anti-Israel and not anti-Zionist.

Update: Academic criticism
Something that I forgot to mention inn my initial answer is the academic criticism, notably from the revisionist Israeli historians, who essentially support the Palestinian narrative - see New historians. In the words of a Palestinian historian Rashid Khalidi:

In this sense, the “revisionist” works written by a number of Israeli historians and social scientists—Avi Shlaim, Ilan Pappé, Tom Segev, Benny Morris, and others 31 —are fully within this tradition, for what they are arguing against is the nationalist mythology of the state of Israel as it has informed and shaped Israeli accounts of that country’s history. That mythology is additionally the backbone of the received version of the history of the conflict as it is perceived in the West.

Describing Israeli history and current events with terms such as ethnic cleansing, genocide, occupation, oppression, violation of human rights, colonization is commonplace in Israeli academia, as evidenced by the wholesale attacks on the Israeli academic institutions by the right-leaning organizations, such as Im Tirzu.

I am not aware of such tough criticism of their own country being widespread elsewhere in the western world, beyond singular personalities like Noam Chomsky or groups that are labeled outright extremists.

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    @BrianZ your question is not specifically about one-state solution. In any case, it is beyond mainstream political discourse either in Israel or anywhere in the West. Meretz, the party representing "intellectual left wing" did try to conduct their own negotiations, known as "Geneva initiative". I think your question about the exact percentages is somewhat misguided - how many americans are left-wing? - hard to say, unless you mean specifically registered democratic voters. You can check on wiki results of various Israeli elections - how many Israelis are left-wing. Oct 25, 2023 at 19:15
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    The question is broad but, misguided or not, public opinion polls were the primary focus.
    – Brian Z
    Oct 25, 2023 at 20:14
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    @BrianZ using vague and suggestive terms is a propaganda tool - remember "1984"? There are also other problems with BDS - singling out Israel, and using the indiscriminate methods (the Boycott, divestment and sanctions) that are likely to harm many innocent people, including those that they pretend to defend. Oct 26, 2023 at 15:18
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    @BrianZ I am not equating BDS with Hamas - if BDS condemned Hamas and distanced itself from the acts of violence, it would be indeed a formidable movement. But it seems that they do just the opposite: see their statement from October 8 ngo-monitor.org/reports/… Oct 26, 2023 at 19:45
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    @Evargalo Expelling of Jews from the region is the best case logical result of what BDS is advocating for & the idea that if you just get rid of Israel as a Jewish nation you can have a shared society with Jews as equal citizens is ridiculous. It's not what we see in other states in the region, and it's definitely not what Hamas wants. And most BDS followers know that.
    – tim
    Dec 16, 2023 at 12:11


How prevalent is profound criticism of Israel among Israelis?

Israel's electorate has a wide diverse variety of political views to choose from and the resulting elections have reflected the electorate struggling to find consensus just like everybody else. This is reflected by Israel having 4 different governments in the last 3 years. 5 If Netanyahu is forced to step down before Jan 1. That isn't out of the question.

  • Benjamin Netanyahu 2022-present
  • Yair Lapid 2022-2022
  • Naftali Bennet 2021-2022
  • Benjamin Netanyahu 2009-2021
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    People vote on things besides for the Palestinians.
    – Kovy Jacob
    Dec 12, 2023 at 4:41
  • ... quite unexpectedly
    – dEmigOd
    Dec 12, 2023 at 7:21

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