New Poll Shows Majority of U.S. Jews Support Obama's Policy Toward Israel

The poll, published by the American Jewish Committee, reveals Obama's support comes from mostly secular Jews who cite the economy as their top priority.

Natasha Mozgovaya
Natasha Mozgovaya
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Natasha Mozgovaya
Natasha Mozgovaya

A recent poll found that 58 percent of American Jews approve of President Obama’s handling of the relationship between the U.S.and Israel,as opposed to 40 percent who disapprove.

The poll, which was published by the American Jewish Committee, reveals that the majority of the community will vote for President Obama in November.

President Barack Obama speaks at the Building and Construction Trades Department Legislative Conference, Monday, April 30, 2012, in Washington.Credit: AP

According to the poll, 61% of U.S. Jews support Obama, 28% support his Republican rival Mitt Romney and 11% are undecided. A survey published about a month ago by the Public Religion Research Institute revealed more or less the same numbers - 62% for Obama and 30% for Romney.

On the other hand, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu enjoys much a higher approval rating than Obama, with 70% approving of his handling of U.S.-Israel relations, and 28% disapproving. Netanyahu, however, is not running for the presidency, and Obama is still the default choice for the majority of American Jews.

According the AJC poll, 67% of Jewish women and 55% of Jewish men plan to vote for Obama. Romney is preferred by 34% of American Jewish men and 22% of Jewish women.

Obama is doing better among those who do not attend synagogues: 67% of those who never attend religious services, which comprised 31% of the respondents – would vote for Obama, while 21% would vote for Romney. Among the 14% who attend synagogue one or more times per week, 52% said they would vote for Obama, as opposed to 34% for Romney.

Among Jews who are more focused on national security concerns or U.S.-Israel relations, only 42% would vote for Obama, while 44% of those who cite national security and 45% of those who cite U.S.-Israel relations as their respective top priorities would prefer to vote for Mitt Romney.

David A. Harris, president and CEO of the National Jewish Democratic Council, reads the numbers differently. He noted that Obama had a similar percentage of Jewish voters backing him at around the same stage of the 2008 campaign only to win 78 percent of their support on election day.

71% of American Jews believe that caring about Israel is a very important part of being a Jew. However, 59% of the U.S. Jews have never visited Israel, 19% have only visited once and 21% said they had visited two or more times. Nearly nine out of ten of those Jews who never attend religious services have never been to Israel, while only 26 percent of those who attend services at least once a week have not traveled to Israel.

Steven Simon, Director for Middle East and North Africa at the White House National Security Council, argued today at the Anti-Defamation League National conference in Washington that no other U.S. president has done more for Israel's security than Obama.

"It's not only about weapons and technology, it's about the relationship," Simon said, after listing the budget request for $3.1 billion in military assistance to Israel, "the largest ever", and support for the Iron Dome anti-missile system.

"We've launched a most meaningful and close strategic dialog through all levels of government. Last year nearly 200 Israeli and U.S. officials exchanged visits. It's a priority for this administration to stand up to efforts to delegitimize Israel. We will always reject attempts to equate Zionism with racism. Israel's security is at the top of President Obama's security team, when he said he has Israel's back, he meant it."

Simon said the Obama administration knows Israel sees the threat posed by Iran as existential - but added that while no options are off the table, the U.S. and Israel both believe that Iran does not yet have a nuclear weapons program.

"This loose talk of war benefits the government of Iran. For the sake of Israel's security and America's security we believe we need to talk softly and carry a big stick, to let our pressure to sink in," he added.

David Makovsky of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy said that "Israel knows very well it's not a superpower. There is asymmetry in military capability between Israel and the US; Israel's window of action is much tighter. The attack is not imminent, but Israel's fear is that the Iranians will try to create a wedge between Jerusalem and Washington by the illusion that talks are going somewhere.... Israel fears the new Middle East with peace and democracy might be decades and decades away."



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