Israel Factor: US handling of Middle East unrest mediocre

US President Barack Obama’s ratings have steadily risen, but what do our panelists think of his handling of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

By SHMUEL ROSNER
April 18, 2011 13:38
2 minute read.
President Obama

Obama 311 reuters. (photo credit: Reuters)

 
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The Israel Factor panel of experts is less than impressed with the way the American administration dealt with Middle East unrest. Our new Israel Factor survey, conducted in mid April (complete statistics here) included the monthly questions on Presidential candidates but also a more focused question on Middle East policies of the current administration. All in all, the panel rated the “over all policy” of the administration at 4.5 out of 10 possible points (the question was: “On scale of 1 (negative) to 10 (positive), please rate the Obama administration’s handling of the following Middle East developments in recent months”). While views of different panelists varied, it is worth saying that differences weren’t great, and almost all panelists thought the Obama administration did not deserve more than 6 or less than 3 for its handling of recent events.

On more specific questions the panel was at times more in agreement (handling Bahrain, 5.87), but at times less so. The most notable case of disagreement between the panelists was Egypt, where the Israel Factor average is 5.25, but where some panelists thought the administration handled Egypt-policy very poorly (2) while others thought it was handling it superbly (10).

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Interestingly, the panel was quite unanimous in giving the administration fairly poor marks on the handling of the Israel-Palestinian conflict (average 4, the lowest of all). This is interesting because in this case there’s no real difference between those on the panel generally more critical of the administration and those generally more favorable. Here’s the proof: in the table bellow you can see that there’s great similarity between the way panelists had ranked Obama in general (in question number 1) and the way they have assessed his handling of Egypt.

Obama     7    8    3    8    2    7    7    8
Egypt     5    6    2    10    2    6    5    6

But on Israel-Palestine there’s no such similarity: some panelists were giving Obama high marks while still thinking his handling of Israel-Palestine was poor:

Obama                   7    8    3    8    2    7    7    8
Israel-Palestine    5    6    2    5    2    5    3    4

One wonders whether this assessment would change in the coming weeks, following President Obama’s expected “new approach” (The White House is now busily working out the details of its new approach to advancing the dormant Middle East Peace process) and Netanyahu’s expected Washington speech. In the months since we’ve re-launched The Israel Factor, President Obama’s rankings keeps climbing, slowly but steadily. After learning to “live with the new Obama” the panel will soon have to decide what it thinks of the new, new Obama.

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