Sunday, May 17, 2009

Plurality of Israelis Think Obama Even-Handed

The Jerusalem Post headlines it "31% of Israelis call Obama pro-Israel", but that's slightly misleading: the poll appears to measure whether Israelis consider Obama slanted in their favor, in favor of the Palestinians, or neutral. 40% chose "neutral", versus the aforementioned 31% "pro-Israel" and 14% "pro-Palestinian". Read that way, there is very little conflict with a previous poll mentioned in the article giving Obama a 60% approval rating -- after all, only 14% of Israelis think he is biased against them.

Since I believe that the destinies of Israel and Palestine are inextricably linked and a pro-peace agenda is in the interests of both nations, I would hope that Obama is both pro-Israel and pro-Palestine. But since "both" apparently wasn't an option, I'd settle for "neutral".

UPDATE: Funny thing. The Ha'aretz coverage of the same poll emphasizes some different questions. The 57% of Israelis who think Netanyahu should accede to a two-state solution when he meets with Obama this week (including 40% of Likud voters!). Or the 55% who think Netanyahu is as bad or worse than ex-PM Ehud Olmert (whose approval ratings, Ha'aretz helpfully reminds us, dipped into single digits). Indeed, the only major government figure to have unabashedly positive approvals was none other than Defense Minister Ehud Barak, head of the dovish Labor Party. His ratings were 60% positive to only 27% negative. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, by contrast, clocked in at a rather dismal 31/45.

All in all, pretty heartening figures for the Israeli peace camp.

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