US President Barack Obama’s trip to Jerusalem last week made a significant
impression on Israelis, but not the impression he was trying to make, according
to a Smith Research poll taken for The Jerusalem Post in the aftermath of the
The percentage of Israelis who consider the Obama administration
more pro- Palestinian than pro-Israel fell by a whopping 20 percent since before
the visit, the poll, taken on Sunday, found.
But the number of Israelis
who consider the administration more pro-Israel than pro-Palestinian rose by
only 1 percentage point, despite what was billed as Obama’s “charm offensive” to
reach out to citizens of the Jewish state.
Obama’s statements in Hebrew
about how good it was to return to Israel and that Israelis are not alone
apparently failed to make a significant impression on them. Apparently, neither
did more substantive steps such as securing funding for Israel's missile defense
systems and facilitating rapprochement with Turkey. But the results indicate
that the negative feelings that came from Obama’s visit to Ramallah did resonate
Palestinian disappointment with Obama’s pro-Israel message
and his not visiting former leader Yasser Arafat’s grave was widely reported in
the Hebrew press.
Obama was greeted in Ramallah by 150 demonstrators
chanting anti-American slogans, and the only heckler at his Jerusalem speech to
left-wing Israeli students was an Israeli Arab.
Smith Research has asked
Israelis in 10 Jerusalem Post polls in four years whether Obama’s administration
is more pro-Israel, more pro-Palestinian or neutral, which is seen as the
ultimate bellwether of whether Israelis believe a US president is on their
To test the effectiveness of Obama’s efforts to reach out to
Israelis, pollster Rafi Smith took a poll on Sunday, March 17, three days before the US president’s arrival, and exactly one week later,
two days after he left.
The gap between Israelis who consider his
administration more pro-Israel and those who say it is more pro-Palestinian rose
from minus 10% to plus 11%, and the share declaring him neutral rose by 13
The new poll of 500 Israelis representing a
statistical sample of the adult population found that 27% consider the
administration more pro-Israel, 16% more pro-Palestinian, 39% neutral, and 18%
did not an express an opinion.
By contrast, in last week’s poll, 26% said
it was more pro-Israel, 36% more pro- Palestinian, 26% neutral, and 12% did not
an express an opinion.
The proportion saying the administration is more
pro-Israel in this week’s poll is the highest since May 2009, while the share
saying it is more pro-Palestinian is the lowest since that same poll. In a sign
that many Israelis’ minds have not been made up, the percentage who declined to
express an opinion is the highest it has been in any of the 10
After the Obama visit, in which he called upon left-wing students
to push their government to make peace, the more dovish Israelis defined
themselves, the more likely they were to deem the Obama administration more pro-Israel. Among Labor voters, it was 51%, for Yesh Atid voters 29%, for Likud
Beytenu and Shas supporters 27%, and for those who supported Bayit Yehudi
The proportion considering the administration more pro-Palestinian
was 40% among Shas voters, 20% for those who voted Bayit Yehudi, 19% Likud
Beytenu, 11% Yesh Atid and among Labor voters 6%.
The survey had a margin
of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.