Poll: Republicans likelier to support Israel when interests diverge with U.S.


WASHINGTON (JTA) — Republicans are far more likely than Democrats to support Israel when U.S. and Israeli interests diverge.

A Bloomberg News poll published this week found that 67 percent of Republican respondents agreed with the statement, “Israel is an important ally, the only democracy in the region, and we should support it even if our interests diverge,” while 30 percent agreed with the statement “Israel is an ally but we should pursue America’s interests when we disagree with them.” Among Democrats, 64 percent of respondents agreed with the latter statement.

Overall, respondents were statistically tied over the question of whether the United States should pursue its own interests over Israel’s, with 47 percent agreeing and 45 percent disagreeing.

Discrepancies over who sympathized with President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were even sharper, with 76 percent of Democrats sympathizing with Obama and 9 percent with Netanyahu, and 67 percent of Republicans sympathizing with Netanyahu and 16 percent with Obama. Among all respondents, 47 percent favored Obama to 34 percent who favored Netanyahu.

Netanyahu and Obama have clashed recently over nuclear talks with Iran, which Obama favors as a means of keeping Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and Netanyahu opposes as endangering Israel and the world. Netanyahu’s speech to Congress last month, organized without consulting the White House, infuriated Obama.

On the question of the outline of a nuclear agreement between the major powers and Iran achieved earlier this month, Democrats were 70 percent optimistic and 24 percent pessimistic, and Republicans were 62 percent pessimistic and 31 percent optimistic. Overall, the poll showed 49 percent of Americans counted themselves as optimistic, while 43 percent were pessimistic.

The April 6-8 poll of 1,008 adults had an overall margin of error of 3.1 percentage points. Among Democrats, the margin of error was 5.6 percentage points; among Republicans it was 6 percentage points.

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