Poll: Slight Majority of Israeli Jews Unfavorable to Obama


WASHINGTON (JTA) — A slight majority of Jewish Israelis has negative views of President Obama, but his supporters are more numerous than previously reported, according to a poll.

The Brookings Institution poll of Jewish Israelis recorded 51 percent responding that they had negative views of Obama and 41 percent responding that they had positive views of the U.S. president.

The Obama administration’s Israel policy has been dogged for over a year by the impression that Jewish Israeli support for Obama is in the single digits, based on previous polls conducted by other organizations.

The Brookings poll found that Israeli attitudes toward the United States remain overwhelmingly favorable — 78 percent registering favorable and 12 percent registering unfavorable. The poll also found that a substantial majority of polled Israelis are not wedded to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state as part of a peace agreement. Respondents who wanted such recognition as a precondition amounted to 36 percent, those who opposed were at 23 percent, and those who said they would like it but could live without it were at 39 percent. A substantial majority, however, favored defining Israel as "the homeland of the Jewish people and of all its citizens," 71 percent to 27 percent.

A majority also appeared to believe that the Netanyahu government is not doing enough to press for a peace deal, with 62 percent saying that Israel should "do more than it does today to promote comprehensive peace with the Arabs based on the 1967 borders, with agreed modifications, and the establishment of a peaceful Palestinian state next to Israel," and 35 percent saying it should not.

The poll found considerable pessimism about the near-term prospects for peace. Forty-seven percent said there would never be peace, 43 percent said it was inevitable but would take time and 8 percent said there would be peace within the next five years.

Brookings’ poll, published Thursday, was conducted among 500 respondents in mid-November. It had a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points. Brookings, based in Washington, released two other polls the same day, on Israeli Arab attitudes and on American attitudes to the peace process.