Israelis Don't Trust Putin to 'Do the Right Thing' but Believe Trump Would, Pew Study Finds

Sixty-nine percent of Israelis don't have confidence in Putin; their trust in Trump, however, is among the highest in the world

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Russian President Vladimir Putin holds a fish he caught during a hunting and fishing trip in southern Siberia, Russia, August, 2017.
Russian President Vladimir Putin holds a fish he caught during a hunting and fishing trip in southern Siberia, Russia, August, 2017.Credit: SPUTNIK/REUTERS

A new Pew Research Center survey conducted in 37 countries outside of Russia shows that more people, Israelis included, hold negative views on Russia than positive ones, and don’t trust Vladimir Putin to “do the right thing” when it comes to global affairs.

Respondents in most countries surveyed said they trusted U.S. President Donald Trump even less. In Israel, however, confidence in Trump was among the highest in the world: 58 percent of Israelis said they trusted Trump to handle world affairs.

The results, published Wednesday, came from surveying 40,951 respondents from February 16 to May 8, 2017. A total of 40 percent of respondents were found to hold a negative view of Russia, while 34 percent held a favorable view. In Israel, the negative perception was higher than the average, with 61 percent holding an unfavorable view on Russia. Only 35 percent of Israelis said they viewed Russia favorably.

In most countries surveyed, people were not confident that Putin would “do the right thing regarding world affairs.” Globally, a median of 60 percent said they lack confidence in the Russian president’s global leadership and only 28 percent of Israelis said they trust Putin’s intentions, while 69 percent do not.

However, despite the negative views they held of Russia and its leader, most respondents did not see Russian power and influence as a major threat to their nations. Russia was seen as less threatening than the Islamic State and climate change in every nation surveyed except for Poland and Jordan.

A global median of only 31 percent of respondents said Russia poses a major threat to their country, compared with 62 percent for ISIS, 61 percent for climate change and 51 percent for global economy and cyberattacks from other countries.

Among Jordan, Turkey, Israel, Lebanon and Tunisia – the Middle Eastern countries included in the survey – Israelis were the least concerned about Russia’s power and influence. Only 27 percent of Israelis see Russia as a major threat to their nation.

In the United States, where Russia’s possible involvement in the recent election remains a hot-button issue, Pew researchers discovered a partisan divide. While Republicans and Democrats held similar views on Russia’s threat to national security only two years ago, today there is a large gap between the groups. Among Democrats, 61 percent viewed Russia as a major risk to national security, whereas only 36 percent of Republicans agreed.

When it came to world affairs, respondents in most countries had even less trust in Trump. In Germany, France, Japan and 19 other countries surveyed, respondents had more trust in Putin to handle global affairs. In 17 of the countries, trust in Trump was less than 20 percent.

Curiously, Israelis’ trust in Trump’s ability to “do the right thing regarding world affairs” was one of highest of all the countries surveyed. Fifty-six percent of Israelis trusted Trump in matters of global affairs, and only Filipinos (69 percent), Nigerians (58 percent) and Vietnamese (58 percent) have more confidence in Trump than Israelis.