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Press Release

Poll of Israeli Public Shows Overwhelming Appreciation for the U.S., Mixed Views of November Presidential Election

RAMAT GAN, Israel, June 15, 2012 … The Israeli public has a strongly positive attitude toward the United States and continues to perceive the U.S. as a loyal ally of Israel, according to a new poll of Israeli public opinion issued today. The poll found nearly 70 percent of Israelis have a positive attitude toward the U.S. and just as many believe that it is and will remain a loyal and unwavering ally of Israel.

The comprehensive poll of Israeli public opinion was released today by the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies ("BESA Center"), the Bar-Ilan University Center for International Communication ("CIC"), and the Anti-Defamation League ("ADL") and queried Israeli citizens about a number of issues affecting U.S.-Israel and Israel-Diaspora relations. The poll is a follow-up to the 2007 and 2009 BESA Center-ADL surveys on these issues.

Among the key poll findings:

  • Nearly 70 percent of Israelis have a positive attitude toward the U.S., and believe the U.S. is a loyal ally of Israel. More than 90 percent believe that in an existential crisis ("a moment of truth"), the U.S. will come to Israel's aid.
  • If diplomatic efforts fail to stop the Iranian drive towards a nuclear bomb, two-thirds (66 percent) of Israelis would support an Israeli military strike on Iran. Of those supporting Israeli military action, 71 percent would continue to support such action even if the American government opposed an Israeli strike.
  • Asked about their "attitude toward U.S. President Obama", the results are mixed with 23 percent saying their views are "negative", 38 percent saying "positive" and 38 percent indicating they are "neutral."
  • 41 percent of Israelis are dissatisfied with the Obama administration's policies on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and 68 percent believe that in a second Obama term, relations between the countries will remain as they have been.
  • Looking at the possible outcome of the 2012 presidential election, 30 percent of respondents said they thought U.S.–Israel relations would improve during a Romney presidency, while 26 percent thought relations would remain the same. Most notably, a significant plurality of 38 percent responded "don't know" or didn't respond.
  • 53 percent of Israelis feel that U.S. policy in response to the "Arab Spring," was not handled properly, and 38 percent feel that U.S. policy in response to the "Arab Spring" has weakened the standing of the U.S. in the Middle East.
  • 60 percent of Israelis believe that American Jews continue to be close to Israel (up from 45 percent in 2009), while 26 percent fear that they are drifting away from Israel.
  • 61 percent of Israelis say that American Jews have a right to freely and publicly criticize Israel and Israeli policies under some or all circumstances, while 36 percent say they do not.

The survey of Israeli opinion was prepared for the international conference on "American-Israeli Relations," June 17-18, 2012 at the BESA Center. It was conducted by the Maagar Mochot polling agency between May 28 and June 1, 2012. 540 adult Jewish Israelis were surveyed. The poll's margin of error was plus or minus 4.5 percent.

"The bedrock of the U.S.-Israel relationship is found in the people of Israel and the people of the United States. Poll after poll shows broad support for Israel among Americans and that Israelis just as broadly support America," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "That mutual reinforcement, based on shared values and interests, explains the historic and lasting alliance between the two countries. This latest poll is another affirmation of the strong ties that bind our two countries and the good will felt by many Israelis when asked about their nation's unshakable alliance with America."

Prof. Eytan Gilboa of the BESA Center and director of the Bar-Ilan University Center for International Communication, who directed the new poll (along with Dr. Yael Bloch-Elkon), said that "the survey indicates that despite occasional tensions between leaders, the Israeli public remains one of the most pro-American communities in the world. Overwhelming majorities, that have only grown since our first poll in 2007, view the U.S. and Israel as having similar strategic interests in the Middle East, see the U.S. as Israel's loyal ally, and as a friend that will come to Israel's aid in times of trouble. At the same time, Israelis are clearly concerned about President Obama's Middle East policies with regards to Israel-Palestinian affairs, the Arab uprisings, and Iran."

Professor Efraim Inbar, director of the BESA Center, adds that "This poll shows Israelis to be apprehensive about some of the policies of the current U.S. administration, while continually optimistic about America and the American people's friendship for Israel into the future."

The poll serves as background to a broad-ranging international conference on "American-Israeli Relations" that the three organizations will jointly convene this coming Sunday-Monday, June 17-18, 2012 at Bar-Ilan University's Feldman Conference Center. The conference is open to the media and public.

On Sunday June 17 at 6:00 pm, Lt. Gen. (res.) Moshe Yaalon, Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Strategic Affairs will give the opening keynote address to the conference. On Monday June 18 at 4:15 pm, Prof. Eytan Gilboa of the BESA Center (who co-directed the poll) will present and analyze the full results of the survey. Immediately afterwards, former Israel National Security Advisor Prof. Uzi Arad will close the conference with a discussion of the strategic ties between the two countries.

Other conference speakers include former US National Security Council Mideast Chief Elliott Abrams, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy's Mr. David Makovsky, CNN senior political analyst Prof. Bill Schneider, Leslie Mirchin of AIPAC, Prof. Paul Wachtel of NYU, and professors Hillel Frisch and Jonathan Rynhold of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.

The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.

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