JTA – Most Israeli Jews would prefer Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump as the next president of the United States – even though more of them think Trump would be better for the “Israeli government’s policy,” according to a poll released on Wednesday.
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When asked to choose between the two candidates, 43 percent of Israeli Jews prefer Clinton as president, compared to 34 percent who want Trump. But 38 percent say Trump would be better for Israel, compared to 33 percent who say Clinton would be.
On both questions, a large number of people don’t prefer a candidate.
The Israel Democracy Institute think tank and Tel Aviv University released its latest Peace Index monthly survey after polling 600 Israelis at the end of August. The margin of error is 4.1 percent.
Some respondents support Clinton, America's former first lady and secretary of state, even though they don’t think the Democratic candidate “will be better from the standpoint of the Israeli government’s policy,” as the survey puts it. Thirteen percent of the Jews who say Trump, the Republican nominee, would be better for Israel want Clinton to be president. Only 2 percent of Jews who said Clinton would be better for Israel want Trump to be president.
“There seem to be people who support Clinton even though they think she will put more pressure on Israel or be less easy for Israel to deal with in terms of all the support we need from the United States,” Chanan Cohen, a researcher at the Israel Democracy Institute who helped lead the survey, told JTA.
Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson and the Green Party’s Jill Stein were not included in the survey .
In April, Jewish opinion on the subject was nearly reversed. The Peace Index that month found 40 percent thought Clinton would be better for Israel’s interest and 31 percent thought Trump would be.
Since the primary season, when Trump pledged to be a “neutral” broker of Israeli-Palestinian peace, he and the Republican Party have tried to boost their pro-Israel bona fides. On Monday, Republican Trump supporters opened their fifth campaign office in Israel, the first in the West Bank. They predict 85 percent of Americans living in Israel, who they say number 300,000, will vote for the developer and reality TV star.
Still, Trump does not have a plurality of Israeli Jewish support. Even on the political right, only 49 percent support him, with 23 percent preferring Clinton, according to the survey. The left (86 percent) and center (57 percent) have an “overwhelming preference” for Clinton, according to the Israel Democracy Institute.
“I expected the right-wing voters to support Trump in bigger numbers, but we can see less than half did,” said Cohen. “I know that in the United States, the right has concerns about Trump’s personality, and we can see this also on the Israel right.”
Among Israeli Arabs, who make up about 20 percent of Israel’s population, 58 percent prefer the Democratic nominee and 11 percent the Republican.
In another poll released on Wednesday, a CNN/ORC survey of likely American voters showed Trump with a 45-43 percent advantage over Clinton.