Israel only country where support for US has dropped

Israelis prefer former president George W. Bush's handling of global affairs to President Barack Obama's, according to Pew poll.

By RACHEL GEIZHALS
July 30, 2009 23:48
2 minute read.
Israel only country where support for US has dropped

obama scolds 248.88. (photo credit: AP)

Israel is the only one of the 25 nations polled where support of the United States and of its president have waned, according to a recent worldwide public opinion survey. Israeli support of the US declined by seven percentage points in the past two years, and Israelis prefer former president George W. Bush's handling of global affairs to President Barack Obama's, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center's Global Attitudes Project, based in Washington DC. The survey was conducted from mid-May through mid-June. Israelis were polled both before and after Obama's Cairo speech to determine its effect on public opinion. In that June 4 speech to the Muslim world, Obama called for a "new beginning" and pledged improvement in US-Muslim relations. Israeli support of the US decreased by 13% after the speech, and confidence in Obama's management of world affairs decreased by 11%. "There is a general feeling that the Obama administration is setting its priorities - as far as Israel is concerned - and getting them wrong," Micha Pomerance, a professor of international law and American foreign policy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, told The Jerusalem Post. "It's getting closer to the Arab and Muslim world at the cost of their relationship with Israel." Pomerance said that the sentiment is that the US is focusing on Israeli issues that are not as significant as those elsewhere, because it is more convenient for the US to put Israel in a difficult position. "They put pressure on the more malleable party," Pomerance explained. She also said that the Obama administration's priorities seem skewed, something that affects all sections of the Israeli political spectrum. For example, not everyone in Israel agrees on the matter of settlements, but when the US hones in on that one problem instead of on greater global issues, such as the Iranian nuclear threat, Israeli resentment is understandably aroused. Only 6% of Israeli Jews consider the Obama administration's views pro-Israel, according to a Jerusalem Post-sponsored Smith Research poll that was conducted last month. Palestinians were also polled by the Pew center before and after the Cairo speech. Their support improved only slightly post-speech, but their belief that Obama will consider their interests when making international policy increased more significantly. There are some overwhelmingly Muslim countries that view the US in a more positive light. This was most evident in Indonesia, and to a lesser extent, in Jordan and Egypt. Turkey, Pakistan and the Palestinian territories are still just as hostile regarding the US as they have been in the past. However, even some countries that are generally negative towards the US expressed more confidence in Obama's handling of international affairs. Egypt and Jordan support Obama three times more than they supported Bush last year, and Pakistan and the Palestinian territories expressed more support for Obama. However, it was only a marginal improvement to their intense dislike of Bush. The improvement in the US's image in most of the other countries can be attributed to their confidence in Obama's foreign policy platform. Most Western countries trust that Obama will handle world affairs properly, as opposed to the general lack of confidence they had in Bush. Western European countries were most expressive in their support of the US, but key countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia also exhibited a more positive attitude towards the US.


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