Poll: Big drop in Israelis who see Obama as hostile

'Post'/Smith Research survey shows percentage of those who consider US president pro-Palestinian falls to four-year low.

Obama speech in Jerusalem 390 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Obama speech in Jerusalem 390
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
US President Barack Obama’s trip to Jerusalem last week made a significant impression on Israelis, but not the impression he was trying to make, according to a Smith Research poll taken for The Jerusalem Post in the aftermath of the visit.
The percentage of Israelis who consider the Obama administration more pro- Palestinian than pro-Israel fell by a whopping 20 percent since before the visit, the poll, taken on Sunday, found.
But the number of Israelis who consider the administration more pro-Israel than pro-Palestinian rose by only 1 percentage point, despite what was billed as Obama’s “charm offensive” to reach out to citizens of the Jewish state.
Obama’s statements in Hebrew about how good it was to return to Israel and that Israelis are not alone apparently failed to make a significant impression on them. Apparently, neither did more substantive steps such as securing funding for Israel's missile defense systems and facilitating rapprochement with Turkey. But the results indicate that the negative feelings that came from Obama’s visit to Ramallah did resonate with Israelis.
Palestinian disappointment with Obama’s pro-Israel message and his not visiting former leader Yasser Arafat’s grave was widely reported in the Hebrew press.
Obama was greeted in Ramallah by 150 demonstrators chanting anti-American slogans, and the only heckler at his Jerusalem speech to left-wing Israeli students was an Israeli Arab.
Smith Research has asked Israelis in 10 Jerusalem Post polls in four years whether Obama’s administration is more pro-Israel, more pro-Palestinian or neutral, which is seen as the ultimate bellwether of whether Israelis believe a US president is on their side.
To test the effectiveness of Obama’s efforts to reach out to Israelis, pollster Rafi Smith took a poll on Sunday, March 17, three days before the US president’s arrival, and exactly one week later, two days after he left.
The gap between Israelis who consider his administration more pro-Israel and those who say it is more pro-Palestinian rose from minus 10% to plus 11%, and the share declaring him neutral rose by 13 percentage points.
The new poll of 500 Israelis representing a statistical sample of the adult population found that 27% consider the administration more pro-Israel, 16% more pro-Palestinian, 39% neutral, and 18% did not an express an opinion.
By contrast, in last week’s poll, 26% said it was more pro-Israel, 36% more pro- Palestinian, 26% neutral, and 12% did not an express an opinion.
The proportion saying the administration is more pro-Israel in this week’s poll is the highest since May 2009, while the share saying it is more pro-Palestinian is the lowest since that same poll. In a sign that many Israelis’ minds have not been made up, the percentage who declined to express an opinion is the highest it has been in any of the 10 surveys.
After the Obama visit, in which he called upon left-wing students to push their government to make peace, the more dovish Israelis defined themselves, the more likely they were to deem the Obama administration more pro-Israel. Among Labor voters, it was 51%, for Yesh Atid voters 29%, for Likud Beytenu and Shas supporters 27%, and for those who supported Bayit Yehudi 20%.
The proportion considering the administration more pro-Palestinian was 40% among Shas voters, 20% for those who voted Bayit Yehudi, 19% Likud Beytenu, 11% Yesh Atid and among Labor voters 6%.
The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.