U.S. President Donald Trump makes remarks at the Amphitheater after laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery as part of Memorial Day observance, Arlington, Virginia, U.S., May 29, 2017.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israel is one of only two countries - the other being Russia - that rates US President Donald Trump’s performance in office higher than that of his predecessor, Barack Obama, according to a Pew Research survey released Sunday.
Fifty-six percent of Israelis have confidence that Trump will make good choices in regards to international affairs; the confidence rating in Obama was 49% at the end of his presidency. But the worldwide data, based on research of 40,447 respondents from 37 countries, gives Trump a median confidence rating of only 22%, while Obama enjoyed a 64% median confidence rating in the final years of his term.
The widespread international disapproval of Trump, as juxtaposed with the relative Israeli approval, extends to specific issues. Israel and Jordan are the only countries in which the majority of respondents support Trump withdrawing from the Iran nuclear weapons deal. More than half of Israelis surveyed endorse Trump’s travel ban on certain Muslim-majority nations, while only a third of overall respondents support the proposal. Forty-two percent of Israelis approve of the US building a wall along the Mexican border, compared to the 16% median rating.
According to Pew’s data, global approval of the American president tends to correspond with global approval of America itself. Eighty-one percent of Israelis currently have a favorable opinion of the US, while only 49% of worldwide respondents are similarly inclined.
In its positive regard for Trump, Israel also sets itself apart from other historically close allies of the United States. Canada’s favorability rating for the US is at 43%, which is a 15-year low. Just 22% of Canadians surveyed expressed confidence in Trump, as opposed to 83% for Obama. The UK data shows an almost identical decline, with a 22% confidence rating for Trump as opposed to 79% for Obama. The difference in Germany is even more extreme than the UK and Canada, with just 11% of Germans confident in Trump’s decision-making abilities- 86% were confident in Obama.
However, Israel is not a politically homogeneous nation. It has a +42% difference in responses from ideologically right-wing versus ideologically left-wing respondents - the second-highest, after Australia. Twenty-nine percent of left-leaning Israelis expressed confidence in Trump, which is almost as low as the global median of 22%. Meanwhile, 51% of Israeli centrists and 71% of right-leaning Israelis expressed confidence in the president.
Netanyahu hails "new day" in Israel-US relations after meeting with Trump (credit: REUTERS)
The country is also divided on Jewish-Arab lines: 64% of Jewish respondents are confident in Trump’s ability to lead, while only a quarter of Arabs feel the same. Unsurprisingly, there is a stark difference in regards to the travel ban- 76% of Israeli Jews and only 12% of Israeli Arabs endorse the idea.
Israel awards Trump the highest rating in perceived charisma, with 71% of Israelis responding positively, as opposed to a 39% global median. Although 62% of global respondents would call Trump dangerous, only 42% of Israelis expressed this fear.
Despite Trump’s global unpopularity, worldwide respondents expect relations with the United States to remain about the same overall. Notably, 51% of Europeans do not expect to see a drastic shift in relations with America, despite the region’s strong overall dissatisfaction with Trump.
Of all the countries surveyed, Israel is the most optimistic about the future of its relationship with the US. An outlier in the Middle East, where only 11% of respondents expect relations with the US to improve under the Trump administration, 65% of Israelis anticipate better relations.