Poll: Americams Still Back Israel As Close Friend of United States

Although Israel’s status may seem to have declined in the wake of the Gulf crisis and U.S. accommodations to its new Arab allies, a new poll shows that 70 percent of Americans continue to view Israel as a close ally or friend of the United States.

The poll, released Wednesday by the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, also found that 54 percent of those polled support war with Iraq to protect Israel from a possible Iraqi attack, and more than one-third said Israel has become more important to U.S. strategic interests.

The low profile Israel has kept since the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait on Aug. 2 has not hurt Israel’s standing, and the poll results show that Israel remains an important military and strategic ally, said Abraham Foxman, national director of ADL.

“There is an appreciation in the United States that a low profile doesn’t mean that Israel isn’t important, or isn’t a friend,” said Foxman.

The poll also found that the majority of American people are firmly behind President Bush’s decisions concerning Iraq and Kuwait.

Eighty-eight percent of those polled approve of the economic blockade of Iraq, while 75 percent support the initial decision to send troops to the Persian Gulf.

But if the Jan. 15 deadline for Iraq to leave Kuwait set by the U.N. Security Council passes without any change in Iraq’s position, 51 percent believe the deadline should be extended, while 42 percent favor an immediate declaration of war.

SUPPORT FOR WAR IF NO RETREAT

Overall, 70 percent of Americans polled support the United States going to war at some point if Iraq refuses to retreat from Kuwait, while 23 percent do not.

Almost two-thirds of the people think the objective of preventing Iraq from building nuclear arms is sufficient for going to war, while 64 percent think the objective should be to establish the principle that aggression by one country against another will not be tolerated.

Foxman believes it is significant that the poll found that 72 percent were skeptical over the chances for a peaceful solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the next two years because of the complexities of the situation.

“Americans traditionally believe that every problem has a solution, that there’s a quick fix to everything,” he said. “For the first time here we see that Americans are skeptical of a chance for peace because of the complexities, rather than because of the unwillingness of one side or the other to come to a solution, ” Foxman said.

In general, the American public tends to side with Israel instead of the Arab countries in the Middle East, the poll found. Forty-eight percent side with Israel over the Arab nations, while 20 percent side with the Arabs over Israel.

The poll also found that Americans sympathize more with Israel than with the Palestinians living on the West Bank and Gaza Strip by a margin of 38-29 percent.

The poll was conducted for the ADL by Marttila Kiley Inc. in Boston They polled 606 registered voters across the country between Dec. 4 and 6. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.

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