Israelis have an overwhelming appreciation of the United States, but harbor increasingly negative views of US President Barack Obama’s Middle East foreign policy, according to a public opinion poll carried out by Bar-Ilan University’s Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.
Despite the positive attitudes towards the US, the poll found that Israelis are generally mistrustful of the US president, with only 37 percent of respondents calling Obama’s views of Israel “positive,” while 61% characterized his attitude towards Israel as “negative” or “neutral.”
A similar BESA poll carried out in 2012 showed that 51% of Israelis termed Obama’s attitude towards Israel as positive.
According to the new survey, 96% of Israelis categorized diplomatic relations with the US as “important” or “very important,” and 74% said Washington would come to Israel’s defense against existential threats.
Nearly three-quarters of respondents considered America a loyal ally to Israel.
Reflecting a lack of confidence in Obama’s foreign policy, 52% of respondents said his stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was “bad,” another 50% disapproved of his policies towards Iran, and 47% indicated disapproval of his policies regarding the Islamic State.
Sixty-five percent of Israelis believe that since Obama’s election, the position of the United States in the Middle East has been weakened or very weakened.
Turning to US support for Israel, 58% of respondents attributed it to the strategic partnership between the two countries, 32% to the “political prowess” of American Jews, 5% to the shared values of politicians, and 1% to the religious beliefs of Evangelical Christians.
If diplomatic efforts fail to stop Iran’s nuclear aspirations, 53% of Israelis said they would support a military strike on Iran, and 45% said they would support a strike even if the US opposes it.
Survey co-director Dr. Yael Elkon said the survey’s results indicate “that despite the fact that Israelis are deeply disconcerted about President Obama’s Middle East policies with regards to Israel-Palestinian affairs, regional uprisings, and Iran — the Israeli public remains one of the most pro-American communities in the world.”
“Overwhelming majorities view the US and Israel as having similar strategic interests in the Middle East, see the US as Israel’s loyal ally, and as a friend that will come to Israel’s aid in times of trouble,” she concluded in a press release Thursday.
The poll was released in advance of a two-day BESA Center seminar on America’s standing in the world, scheduled to begin on Monday in Ramat Gan.