Israelis, Palestinians Trust Netanyahu, Abbas on Coronavirus More Than Americans Trust Trump, Survey Finds

Among Israeli citizens surveyed, attitudes were relatively similar across the Jewish-Arab divide regarding the future, with both more optimistic than U.S. citizens or Europeans

Allison Kaplan Sommer
Allison Kaplan Sommer
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A shopper wears a face mask as he gets his body temprature checked, Jerusalem April 26, 2020
A shopper wears a face mask as he gets his body temprature checked, Jerusalem April 26, 2020 Credit: Ronen Zvulun/ Reuters
Allison Kaplan Sommer
Allison Kaplan Sommer

Israelis, Palestinians, and Europeans are far more satisfied with the way their political leaders have navigated the COVID-19 crisis than their counterparts in the United States, a poll published on Tuesday found. 

The multi-country poll measuring attitudes towards the coronavirus pandemic was commissioned by the Israel office of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, and carried out by Keevoon Global Research.

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The survey included Israelis - both Hebrew and Arabic-speakers, Palestinian Authority residents, as well as people from Germany, Poland, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States.

A Konrad Adenauer Foundation poll on residents of different countries' responses to their country's handling of the coronavirus crisis, May 19, 2020
A Konrad Adenauer Foundation poll on residents of different countries' responses to their country's handling of the coronavirus crisis, May 19, 2020Credit: Konrad Adenauer Foundation

Approximately 500 people were polled in each country from April 28 to May 9, when each of the countries were under lockdown orders. 

There were significant differences in attitudes between the countries surveyed on questions regarding the level of satisfaction with political leadership and each country’s level of preparedness.
In Israel and in the Palestinian Authority, a majority of people –  55 and 54 percent respectively – believed their county had been adequately prepared for the pandemic.

A Konrad Adenauer Foundation poll on residents of different countries' responses to their country's handling of the coronavirus crisis, May 19, 2020
A Konrad Adenauer Foundation poll on residents of different countries' responses to their country's handling of the coronavirus crisis, May 19, 2020Credit: Konrad Adenauer Foundation

In Europe and the United States, the response differed drastically, with the majority of people critical of their country’’s level of national preparedness. 72 percent of Italians said their governments had been unprepared, along with 71 percent of British citizens, 70 percent of Poles, and 68 percent of Americans. Only about 24 percent of respondents in each of these countries said they thought they had been prepared. In Germany, 51 percent said the government had been unprepared, while 41 percent thought that it had been prepared. 

Israel and the United Kingdom had the highest level of support when it came to the way their political leaders had responded to the crisis. 67 percent of Israelis surveyed said they supported Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s handling of the outbreak, and an identical number of British people felt the same regarding Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Least happy with their leaders were Poles and Americans. Only 41 percent of Poles supported the response of Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, while just 45 percent of Americans approved of  President Donald Trump’s response.  

The “very very strong support” for Johnson, given the criticism in Britain regarding his initial handling of the crisis and how badly the country has been affected by the pandemic was significant, said Israeli-American pollster Mitchell Barak, the CEO of the research and communications company Kevoon. He also said the high level of approval from Israelis was significant, given the fact that the poll was taken at a time of political uncertainty as the country was led by a caretaker government.  

The reaction to the performance of political leaders from those polled correlated to each country’s level of confidence that they or their family members would be able to receive the “necessary medical care and treatment if diagnosed with Coronavirus.” 

A Konrad Adenauer Foundation poll on residents of different countries' responses to their country's handling of the coronavirus crisis, May 19, 2020
A Konrad Adenauer Foundation poll on residents of different countries' responses to their country's handling of the coronavirus crisis, May 19, 2020Credit: Konrad Adenauer Foundation

The highest rating of one’s health care system came from those in the UK and in Germany, with 70 percent and 69 percent of those surveyed expressing confidence in it, followed by Israelis and Palestinians at 64 percent and 57 percent respectively. A slight majority of Americans were confident in their system, at 53 percent, while the least confident were Poles, at 45 percent. 

Meanwhile, more Palestinian Authority residents and Italians believed their Health Ministries were doing “everything they can” to fight the spread of the virus than others countrys polled, with 57 and 56 percent respectively. Only 49 percent of Israelis said health officials were doing their best, and Germans ranked lowest in the category with only 41 percent believing so.   

Other key findings were pathat across nationalities, a significant percentage of people did not know anyone personally who has contracted the coronavirus. Poles, Germans, and Americans were the least likely to know a patient. Still, between a quarter and half of those polled believed it was likely that they or a family member might contract the virus. 

Israelis polled as the most optimistic of all of the national groups, along with Palestinians. Italians were the most pessimistic, with between 36 to 41 percent believing that “the worst is yet to come.” Among Americans, only 21 percent percent of those surveyed believed that the worst of the crisis was behind them, and 51 percent believed that worse times lay ahead of them. 

Barak said he was also struck by the near-identical results across the board when those surveyed were asked if they were more concerned with their finances or their health: In nearly every country the division of concerns was almost equally divided.
“It’s not really as definitive as I thought, in which people would be much more concerned with one issue or the other,” Barak said. 

Palestinian Authority residents stood out in their responses to questions about religious faith. Asked whether they have more of less faith in God during the global crisis, 49 percent of Palestinian Authority residents said they had more faith, with only 34 percent of Israelis and 39 percent  of Americans saying so. Europeans were significantly less likely to have increased faith, at between 19 to 22 percent.  

In a detailed breakdown specific to the region, Barak noted “interesting similarities between Israelis and Palestinians” in their response to the survey questions, as well as a high level of approval by residents of the Palestinian Authority in Abbas’s performance, close to that of Netanyahu and the popular European leaders. Palestinian respondents expressed more confidence in their Health Ministry than their Israeli counterparts - 56 percent versus 49 percent. Overall, Israeli attitudes were “very very much the same as the Palestinians on a lot of issues,” noted Barak.  

Among Israeli citizens surveyed – 502 Hebrew speakers and 85 Arabic speakers – attitudes were also relatively similar across the Jewish-Arab divide regarding the future. Both groups were significantly more optimistic than their European and American counterparts. The two groups diverged statistically dramatically when it came to their assessment of the government’s response to the pandemic, though the level of support of Arabic speakers was relatively high.  

68 percent of Hebrew speakers approved of Netanyahu’s handling of the crisis, and Arabic speakers gave him 60 percent of their support. While 50 percent of Hebrew speakers said their Health Ministry was “doing everything they can,” the number was lower among Arabic speakers at 42 percent.

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