Israelis warm up to Obama ahead of visit

2013-03-19 17:33

Jerusalem - Israelis are warming up to Barack Obama, but only slightly, according to a new opinion poll published on the eve of the US president's visit to Israel.

Obama arrives in the Jewish state on Wednesday for the first time as president, hoping to reassure a wary Israeli public of his oft-stated commitment to its security in the face of fears that arch-enemy Iran intends to develop nuclear weapons.

The survey, conducted last week by the Israel Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University, found 36.5% of Jews in Israel view Obama as friendly toward their country compared with 29% a year ago.

A majority of the Jewish public - 51% - sees the president's attitude toward Israel as neutral, while 10.5% regard him as hostile.

However, Israel's Arab minority, which comprises 20% of the population, regards Obama as staunchly pro-Israel. During Obama's tenure, Israeli Arabs' Palestinian kin have seen Jewish settlements expand steadily in occupied territory and negotiations on a Palestinian state there frozen indefinitely.

Israeli Arab leaders have long seen Washington as taking Israel's side in its conflict with the Palestinians.

Obama has raised concerns among Israeli Jews with his outreach to Iran - which denies it is seeking nuclear energy for military purposes - in the early days of his first term, a testy relationship with right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a 2009 Middle East visit that skipped Israel.

The poll found that 54% of Israeli Jews still do not believe Obama will consider and safeguard Israel's interests. But it noted that figure topped 66% in the past.

During his visit, which will include the occupied West Bank and Jordan, Obama will speak directly to the Israeli public in an address to college students that aides said would focus on US-Israeli security cooperation and prospects for peace.

According to the poll, it could be a tough sell: 62% of the Jewish public does not believe Obama can bring about a real breakthrough in peace efforts with the Palestinians.
The poll surveyed 600 people and has a margin of error of 4.5%.

  • Tom Du Plooy - 2013-03-19 18:00

    It’s amazing how the world is so focused on so called "settlements" while thousands are dying in Syria and in the Arab world. It simply shows that the issue is pure hatred of Jews and jealousy of there achievements in Israel.

      Theodor Herzl - 2013-03-19 18:02


      Avremel Niselow - 2013-03-19 19:05

      Well done Kabelo! You really made his point.

      Larry - 2013-03-19 20:17

      When perceptions are sharply polarised, people aren’t prepared to question their pre-conceptions. They only see the “evidence” that supports their prejudices.

      Wishfull Abraham - 2013-03-19 21:49

      Apartheid is apartheid,opression is Oppression,let the palestenians live their lives and there will be peace,put ur arms down an speak,today We free as south africans to walk anywhere,yes like every other country we have our problems,but we still need to soldier on

      Larry - 2013-03-20 05:53

      There is no apartheid in israel. The oppression of the Palestinians is an issue of unresolved war and the absence of peace from the Arabs - tottally of the Palestinians own making.

  • Musawashe Moyo - 2013-03-19 18:56

    Obama must give the go ahead to Israel to attack Iran so that Iran reiterate with a deadly force and WW3 begins. Tired of this bullsh*t!

  • Fidel Chavista - 2013-03-19 21:18

    @Tom A decades long brutal occupation, annexation, land and resources grab isn't exactly minor.

      Boom Baracus - 2013-03-19 22:33

      Why are you talking about Iran/Turkey/Iraq/Sudan/Somalia on this story? This story is about Israel - the only democracy in the Middle East.

      Fidel Chavista - 2013-03-20 09:16

      "the only democracy in the Middle East." Is this part of your specialness.....One word, Lebanon!

  • Fidel Chavista - 2013-03-20 08:59

    Obama must personally detest having to meet with Netayahoo, but that's part of the "perks", he has no say in the matter whatsoever! Sure if it were up to him, he would avoid Netayahoo like a plague!

      Larry - 2013-03-20 09:17

      Your prejudiced perception tell you this, and there is no factual basis for your comment.

      Fidel Chavista - 2013-03-20 09:55

      Common sense, their strained relationship is no secret and is widely reported. What with netayahoo endorsing Romney in the past US elections. Another reason why Obama didn't visit Israel in his first term!

      Larry - 2013-03-20 15:55

      In mature democracies, foreign affairs and policy is not influenced by personality clashes of individuals. Same applies to certain mentalities of commentators on these threads. Too much soap operas influence those of small mind.

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