By better than a three to one margin, Israelis now consider U.S. President Barack Obama more pro-Palestinian than pro-Israel.
According to a Smith Research/Jerusalem Post poll taken Wednesday night, only 16 percent of Israelis believe President Obama’s administration is more pro-Israel than pro-Palestinian. The new poll found that 53% consider the administration more pro-Palestinian, 20% call it neutral, and 11% did not express an opinion. The margin of error of the poll was 4.5 percentage points.
The poll surveyed 500 respondents representing a statistical sample of the adult Israeli Jewish population. It was the first poll taken following the report by Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic in which officials close to Obama were quoted sharply criticizing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and calling him “chickens**t.”
Goldberg also revealed that White House personnel had previously called Netanyahu “recalcitrant, myopic, reactionary, obtuse, blustering, pompous, and ‘Aspergery.'” Goldberg stated that President Obama himself had alluded to Netanyahu’s lack of political courage.
The report resulted in a major backlash among Israelis and criticism of Obama across the political spectrum.
Keeping a running score of the degree to which Israelis feel that the U.S. President is “on their side,” Smith Research has asked Israelis in 11 Jerusalem Post polls throughout Obama’s tenure whether his administration is more pro-Israel, more pro-Palestinian, or neutral.
The current results contrast sharply with results from some previous polls. The Smith Research poll that asked the question following Obama’s March 2013 visit to Israel found that 27% considered his administration more pro-Israel, only 16% said more pro-Palestinian, 39% neutral, and 18% did not express an opinion. Since then, Obama’s administration has gone from an 11% majority of Israelis believing it to be more pro-Israel to a majority of 37% deeming it more pro-Palestinian.
The high-water mark for the Obama administration among Israelis came shortly after Obama was elected, in May 2009, when 31% called the administration pro-Israel. The low point came just months later, in August 2009, following Obama’s Cairo speech and assorted diplomatic mishaps. At that point, only 4% of Israelis considered President Obama to be pro-Israel.
Interestingly, the poll showed a correlation between those Israelis who consider themselves religiously observant and those who consider Obama to be more pro-Palestinian; 69% of religious respondents consider Obama pro-Palestinian. Only 8% of religious respondents say the administration is more pro-Israel, compared to 20% of secular respondents.