(photo credit: Courtesy)
WASHINGTON – American Jewish officials cautioned that additional time was needed
to assess the affect of US President Barack Obama’s recent outreach to Israelis,
after a Jerusalem Post-commissioned poll found their attitudes toward him hadn’t
RELATED:JPost poll: Obama didn't sway IsraelisOpinion: Another tack; it's only a paper moon
The poll reported that just 10 percent of Israeli Jews said
Obama’s administration was more pro-Israel, compared to 46% who said it was more
pro-Palestinian and 34% who said it was neutral.
The survey of 515 Jewish
Israelis, with a 4.4-percentage point margin of error, was conducted last week
following Obama’s warm welcome of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the White
House and his first interview for Israeli television.
Yet the results of
the Smith Research poll were just a few percentage points different – 9%, 48%
and 30% respectively – from those reported to the same questions in March, at a
point of deep tension between the two countries.
“Public opinion doesn’t
change overnight. It takes time,” said Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman
of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish
Despite the results, “people have seen the last visit in
very positive terms,” he said.
But he added that a public skeptical on a
range of issues, including politicians’ intentions, were also waiting to see
what Obama did next.
“People will look to see how policies and positions
That’s the real measure,” according to
Hoenlein."Israel opinion will improve when Obama visits J'lem"
Another Jewish organization leader, who asked to not be named,
said the recent White House overtures to Israel – while welcome – still hadn’t
fully registered. He also said, though, that relations between the two countries
had been so strained it would take some time to recover.
“At the very
least it’s going to take a while if those attitudes are going to change, because
the shock to the system was quite pronounced,” he said.
Democratic Jewish Council president David Harris contended that Israeli opinion
would improve more dramatically once Obama visited Israel.
Israeli people get to know the president better – including when the president
has an opportunity to visit Israel in the future – I have every confidence that
they will be as strongly supportive of him as the American Jewish community has
been,” Harris said. “The fact is that as Israel’s leaders have noted repeatedly,
President Obama has demonstrated that he is unshakably committed to Israel’s
security, and he’s gathered an unprecedented global coalition to counter Iran’s
Other Democratic Jewish activists, including
strategist Matt Dorf, charged that the poll was flawed.
“One should not
draw any conclusions about President Obama’s standing in Israel from
he said. “This is like asking, ‘Did you ride the bus or buy your
argued that surveys asking whether Israelis approve of Obama’s job
and whether his policies are enhancing Israel’s security would provide
assessments of public opinion.
“This question [the poll’s] is designed to
elicit a negative response,” he said.
The White House declined requests
from the Post for comment.