Netanyahu and Obama at airport 390.
(photo credit: White House)
The majority of Americans consider Israel a trusted ally but believe the US
should play only a “minimal” role in peace negotiations between Israelis and
Palestinians, according to a public opinion survey released by the
Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on Tuesday.
The announcement that 62 percent
of Americans believe “it is up to the Palestinians and the Israelis to solve
their own problems” in pursuit of lasting peace came only hours before US
Secretary of State John Kerry landed in Israel in an attempt to jump start
stalled peace negotiations.
The data provide a stark reminder that while
Americans support Israel and distrust Iran, they are ambivalent and often
reluctant about intervention in the Middle East.
“It seems like the
American public wants less and less to do with the Middle East,” said Nimrod
Goren, chair of Mitvim–The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies,
which was not involved in conducting the survey.
Goren said “without
strong American involvement the chances to make progress are not very
Abraham Foxman, the ADL national director, said in a statement
that the data showed two general trends.
“On the one hand,” he said,
“Israel is in as good a position with the American public as it ever has
More than three-quarters of respondents believed that Israel was a
“strong, loyal US ally,” the highest level of support in at least eight
“On the other hand,” Foxman continued, “there are signs here as
elsewhere that the American people want less US involvement in the Middle East
region, a position which has little to do with negative feelings toward Israel
but that can have negative consequences for the Jewish state.”
the data reflected a need for Israel to adapt its long-term expectations for US
The survey was conducted in mid-October, as Iranian President
Hassan Rouhani’s “charm offensive” was in full swing
The data indicate
that, at least in the short-term, the Iranian regime’s efforts did not appear to
convince most Americans. Eight out of ten respondents said they did not trust
the regime, and three-quarters believed it was unlikely that the Iranians would
“abide by their public commitment to not develop nuclear weapons.”
Jacobson, the ADL’s deputy national director, wrote in an email that this
finding “could give space to the administration to be very tough in
Still, Americans are split regarding military action – 50%
for, 41% against – and a plurality believes that if Israel attacks Iran the US
should “stay neutral.”
They are also split almost evenly about whether to
keep or eliminate sanctions.
Seventy percent of the respondents thought
it unlikely that Syria would eliminate its chemical weapons
Yet Americans strongly oppose trying to remove President
Bashar Assad from power, and a majority opposes US intervention if Syria does
not destroy its chemical weapons.
The ADL surveyed 1,200 Americans. The
poll had a margin of error of 2.8%.