Poll: Majority of Israelis believe US projecting weakness on Syria, Iran

2/3 of Jewish Israelis: Obama will fail to stop Iranian nukes; 80% of Israelis believe Rouhani charm offensive is not genuine.

October 10, 2013 11:26
2 minute read.
US President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu in the Oval Office, September 30, 2013.

Netanyahu and Obama meeting in Washington 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Jason Reed )


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Two-thirds of Jewish Israelis believe US president Barack Obama will fail to keep his promise to prevent Iran’s development of nuclear weapons, while only 27 percent believe he will succeed.

This according to the monthly Peace Index poll taken by the Israel Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University, which was released on Thursday.

The survey of 601 respondents constituting a representative sample of the adult population of Israel was conducted last Monday and Tuesday, the days that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met with Obama in Washington and delivered his address to the United Nations General Assembly. The headlines in the days ahead of the poll were about the Iranian charm offensive at the UN and the phone conversation between Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

Asked whether the US was projecting weakness on Iran, affirmative answers were given by 60% of Israelis, including 64% of Jewish respondents and 40% of Arab respondents. Only 22% of Israelis said the US was projecting power, including 20% of the Jewish respondents and 31% of the Arab respondents.

When asked the same question about Syria, the results were similar.

Sixty-three percent of Israelis said the US was projecting weakness.

Among Jews, 66% answered affirmatively and 49% of Arab respondents said yes. Twenty-three percent said the US was projecting power on the issue, including 22% of Jewish respondents and 28% of the Arabs surveyed.

Israeli Jews and Arabs differed starkly in their opinion on whether Iran was really changing its position.

Eighty percent of Israeli Jews said they believed that Rouhani’s UN speech calling for an agreement with the West was merely a change in rhetoric and not in Iran’s goals.

Only 14% of Israeli Jews said they believed that it does constitute a real change. Among Israeli Arabs, 47% said a real change was under way, while 42% believe that only the rhetoric has changed.

Seventy-seven percent of Jewish Israelis said Netanyahu was right to continue warning the world of the danger Iran poses, while 14% said he should leave that job to American and European leaders.

On the Palestinian issue, 61% of Jewish respondents and 88% of Arab respondents are in favor of peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, while 34% of the Jewish respondents and 8% of the Arab respondents are against the talks.

When asked about the chances of the current talks leading to an agreement, 81% of the Jewish respondents and 64% of the Arabs believe the chances are low that they will lead to a significant agreement, while 14% of the Jewish public and 20% of the Arab public believe the chances are high.

Sixty percent of Jewish Israelis believe the assertion made by the Israeli defense establishment that the two recent murders of soldiers by Palestinians were crimes by individuals rather than the start of a third intifada, while 33% do not.

Among Arab Israelis, 42% accept the defense establishment’s explanation, while 48% do not.

The measurement error for a sample of this size is 4.5 percentage points.

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