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Israeli Support for Government Down 20 Percent, but Still High

February 22, 1991
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Public support for the Israeli government’s policy of restraint in the Persian Gulf war dropped 20 percentage points in a month but is still extraordinarily high, according to a poll conducted here for the American Jewish Committee.

The approval rating was 74 percent, down from 94 percent after Jan. 18, when Israel became the target of Iraqi missile attacks in the first week of the war.

The fact that four out of five Israelis continue to favor restraint after more than 30 Scud missiles have been launched at Israel shows a high degree of political sophistication and absence of public hysteria, according to Louis Guttman of the Institute of Applied Social Research in Jerusalem, which did the polling.

The survey also showed that 44 percent of Israelis approved the conduct of American Jews in the crisis.

Ron Kronish, head of AJCommittee’s Israel office, said that was “remarkable,” considering media reports that say resentment against U.S. Jews is rampant in Israel because so many of them have canceled planned visits since the war was impending.

Those results were challenged by David Clayman, who heads the Israel office of the American Jewish Congress. Clayman said he had serious reservations about the accuracy of the poll.

“Based on my conversations with Israelis and various experts, the general feeling is one of resentment because expectations have not been met,” Clayman said.

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