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Posted by on Mar 19, 2010 in International, Politics | 6 comments

Israeli Newspaper Poll: Most Israelis Consider Obama Fair and Friendly

It seems as if the war of words and accusations between the Obama administration and the Israeli administration, accusations that President Barack Obama is anti-semitic (from a relative of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — an accusation contained in several emails and referral links now being emailed), charges from some Republicans that the Obama administration is abandoning Israel, or reports that the Obama administration’s blocking of bunker busting bombs to Israel means the administration has turned a major anti-Israeli policy corner are not resonating as much with the actual Israeli public as some may claim or wish:

A new poll in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz finds most Israelis consider Obama fair and friendly:

U.S. President Barack Obama’s popularity may be declining in American public opinion, but a sweeping majority of Israelis think his treatment of this country is friendly and fair, according to a Haaretz-Dialog poll conducted this week.

The poll also found that most Israelis don’t believe politicians who call Obama anti-Semitic or hostile to Israel, or who say he is “striving to topple Netanyahu.”

The poll, which was conducted Tuesday and Wednesday and supervised by Professor Camil Fuchs, comes after reports of a crisis in diplomatic relations due to Israel’s announcement during a visit by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden that it will build 1,600 housing units in East Jerusalem.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s aides said they had hoped the public would rally around him and see him as a victim of overly strict treatment by the Obama administration.

However, there was no significant change in the level of public satisfaction with Netanyahu since the previous poll, conducted six weeks earlier. Respondents’ evaluation of his suitability as premier also remained stable.

It appears the public was relatively unfazed by the Israeli and American media frenzy over the diplomatic drama. Perhaps Israelis are too busy cleaning and shopping for Passover or looking for cheap vacations.

The survey indicates that Netanyahu emerged from the crisis unscathed in the eyes of Israeli public opinion, but the continued construction in Jerusalem should cause him some concern.

Polls like his raise these issues:

  • A poll will be often embraced by those who agree with it and it’s methodology will be blasted by those who disagree with it. Then when the poll comes up with numbers that those who disagree with agree with, the methodology somehow is valid even if it has not changed one iota.
  • The emotion in politics when it spins into rage and demonization mode (on all sides) can create a conventional wisdom that may not be completely confirmable if other measures besides written or verbal anger are taken into consideration.
  • This poll in short suggests that Netanyahu is hardly a political pariah in Israel. And neither is Obama.