War and Peace Index April 2010
Despite the ongoing tension between Washington and Jerusalem, a clear
majority – 61% – of the overall Israeli public defines the relations between
the two countries as very good or good (in the Arab sector the rate of those
who view these relations as good is considerably higher—79%!).
At the same time, those defining the relations as “very good” (14%) are
considerably fewer than those who call them “moderately good” (47%). This
finding is consistent with the prevailing view – 46% – that these relations
have recently deteriorated. Thirty-four percent think they have remained the
same, while only 14% see them as having improved (the rest do not know).
Which of the two leaders – Bibi Netanyahu or Barack Obama – does the public
hold responsible for the worsening in the two states’ relations? There are
indirect indications in the answers to a question on how these two leaders
are managing U.S.-Israeli relations. Assessments of how Prime Minister
Netanyahu is doing so are relatively favorable: the majority – 56% – give
him a good or very good grade for managing these relations (33% give him a
poor or very poor one while 11% do not know). President Obama, in
comparison, gets a good or very good grade from only 43% of the respondents,
while 48% give him a poor or very poor grade on managing his relations with
Israel (9% do not know).
Is President Obama perceived, then, as hostile to Israel?
The findings show that this is not the case; the prevailing view is that he
is pragmatic toward Israel, and friendly toward the Arab world. To the
question: “In your impression, what is President Obama’s attitude toward
Israel?” 43% replied that it is pragmatic-neutral, 34% that it is very
friendly or friendly, while 17% defined his attitude as hostile or very
hostile toward Israel (6% did not know). Regarding the Arab world, though,
the distribution of the answers to the same question for the overall public
was: 55%, very friendly or friendly; 32%, pragmaticneutral; while only 6%
saw Obama’s attitude as hostile or very hostile (7% did not know).
Note that in the Arab public the picture is the opposite: 64% think
President Obama is friendly or very friendly toward Israel while only 44%
say the same about his attitude toward the Arab world.
This time we again checked the Israeli public’s estimation of a number of
countries’ degree of friendliness or hostility toward Israel. A clear
ranking emerges: as in the past, the United States tops the friendly
countries (66.5%), after it comes Germany (about 52%), much lower are France
(about 39%) and, after it, Britain (about 32%), which in the past was second
to the United States in perceived degree of friendship toward Israel, and
far behind comes Russia with only 19% viewing it as friendly.
An interesting though not surprising finding is that the overwhelming
majority of the Israeli public sees no connection between Israel’s conduct
and the criticism of Israel in the world. Indeed, 73% (!) say that no matter
what Israel does or how far it goes toward resolving the conflict with the
Palestinians, the world will keep being very critical of it. Interestingly,
among the voters for each and every party we found a majority (the smallest,
as expected, was for Meretz voters at 55%) that holds this view!
Nevertheless, as in the past, this time too we found that a clear majority
of the overall public – 64% – thinks it is very urgent or urgent for Israel
that the talks with the Palestinians resume.
Here a segmentation by parties showed especially large majorities among
voters for Kadima, Meretz, and Labor – 87%, 80%, and 77%, respectively. A
smaller majority was found for Likud voters – 61%, while for the rest of the
parties only a minority sees resuming the talks as urgent.
As for whether Binyamin Netanyahu genuinely wants and is taking real
measures to reach an agreement with the Palestinians, the public is divided.
The rate that agrees with this (45.5%) is only slightly higher than the rate
that does not (43%). In the Arab sector, a sweeping majority of 72% goes to
the naysayers. A segmentation by voting in the 2009 elections shows that
those most sure of Netanyahu’s intentions are Shas voters – 83%, followed by
National Religious Party (Mafdal) voters at 75% and Likud voters at 72.5%.
Among Labor voters the rate is 51%, and the most non-believing are Meretz
voters at 15%.
Whole Sample: 57.6; Jewish sample: 56.1
The War and Peace Index is written by Prof. Tamar Hermann and Prof. Ephraim
Yaar, and funded by the Evans Program for Conflict Resolution Research of
Tel Aviv University and The Israel Democracy Institute. The telephone
interviews were conducted by the B. I. Cohen Institute of Tel Aviv
University on 3-4 May 2010, and included 518 interviewees who represent the
adult population of Israel (including the territories and the kibbutzim).
The sampling error for a sample of this size is 4.5%.