US President Barack Obama’s attempt to portray himself as pro-Israel in a
high-profile speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on Sunday
did not succeed, according to a Smith Research poll sponsored by The Jerusalem
The speech was intended to correct impressions that he was hostile
toward Israel, which may have been reinforced by a landmark address about the
Middle East that he delivered at the State Department last Thursday, and by a
tense press conference at the White House on Friday with Prime Minister Binyamin
A ‘misrepresented’ Obama tries to set the record straight
Obama explains – and makes it worse
Presenting the Obama Doctrine
In the AIPAC speech, Obama chose not to specifically rule out
the “return” to Israel of millions of descendants of Palestinian refugees, and
did not announce his first visit to Israel as president, as many hoped he would.
But he did insist that Israel must remain the Jewish “homeland,” indicating
opposition to the Palestinian demand for refugees’ “return, spoke about Jews’
yearning for Israel through the centuries, listed many ways in which his
administration was helping Israel and clarified his position on creating a
Palestinian state based on the pre-1967 lines with mutually agreed land swaps.
When asked in the poll
whether they saw Obama’s administration as more pro-Israel, more pro-Palestinian
or neutral, just 12 percent of Israeli Jews surveyed said more pro-Israel, while
40% said more pro-Palestinian, 34% said neutral and 13% did not express an
Still, the poll found that the gap between Israelis who say the
administration is pro-Palestinian and those deeming it pro-Israel has narrowed
since previous surveys.
The poll of 600 Jewish Israelis, representing a
statistical sample of the adult Jewish population, was taken on Monday and
Tuesday and had a 4-percentage point margin of error.
defined themselves at the left end of the political map were more likely than
others to deem the Obama administration more pro-Israel – 28% compared to 12%.
Among Kadima supporters, 37% said the administration was more pro-Palestinian;
19% said it was more pro-Israel.
The respondents most likely to label the
Obama administration as more pro- Palestinian were Orthodox Israelis, at 58%,
and right-wing respondents, at 53%. Among Likud supporters, 49% said the
administration was more pro-Palestinian; 11% said it was more
The question asked was exactly the same as in five previous
polls sponsored by this newspaper since May 2009.
The first poll, which
was taken before the first Netanyahu-Obama meeting in the White House – and
Obama’s landmark speech in Cairo in June 2009 – found that 31% considered his
presidency more pro- Israel, and 14% more pro-Palestinian.
The next poll,
taken just one month later, found a huge shift, with the proportion calling the
Obama administration more pro-Palestinian rising from 14% to 50%, and the
proportion calling it more pro-Israel falling from 31% to only 6%.
calling the Obama presidency more pro-Israel than pro-Palestinian fell in August
2009 to 4%, and rose to 9% in March 2010.
Since then, the share who
consider this White House more pro-Israel has risen gradually and slightly,
while the percentage saying it is more pro-Palestinian has gradually
Polls taken in March and July 2010 found that 9% and 10%,
respectively, called the administration more pro- Israel; 48% and 46%,
respectively, called it more pro-Palestinian.
The gap between Israelis
calling the administration more pro-Palestinian and more pro-Israel has fallen
from 47% in August 2009 to 28% this week.
Obama fared better in a Dialog
poll published by Haaretz on Thursday, which found that a quarter of the public
considers him friendly to Israel, while 20% called him hostile and 43% described
him as “businesslike.”
The Dialog poll found that 47% of the Israeli
public deemed Netanyahu’s trip to Washington a success, while only 10% viewed it
as a failure.
Nearly half of the public felt pride at seeing Netanyahu
address Congress on Tuesday, while only 5% deemed it a “missed
The proportion of the population expressing satisfaction
with Netanyahu’s performance as prime minister rose from 38% in the last Haaretz
poll five weeks ago, to 51%.
Other polls also indicated a rise in support
for Netanyahu and his Likud Party since his speeches in Washington.
Telesker poll published in Ma’ariv on Wednesday found that the Likud had
strengthened against Kadima. The poll predicted that the Likud would rise from
27 to 30 Knesset seats, while Kadima would fall from 28 to 27.
was more fit to be prime minister, 36.9% said Netanyahu; 28.3% said Kadima
leader Tzipi Livni; 9.2% said Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman of Israel
Beiteinu; 2.6% said Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Independence; and 18.2%
answered none of the above.
A Sarid Institute poll broadcast on Channel 2
Tuesday night found that 38% of Israelis found Netanyahu most fit to be prime
minister, and 35% Livni. The poll found that the Likud had grown in support at
Since the last poll taken by the institute during a
crisis over gas prices, Kadima fell by five seats and Likud rose by
The poll found that if an election were held now, Likud would win
34 seats (up seven from the last election in February 2009); and Kadima 29 (up
A Geocartographic Institute poll broadcast on Channel 1 Tuesday
night predicted that the Likud would win 33 seats, and Kadima 22. According to
that survey, 61% of Jewish Israelis oppose Obama’s formula of the 1967 lines
with land swaps as a basis for an agreement with the Palestinians, while only
27% favor it.