Poll: Half of Israeli Jews Hold Negative View of Obama

WASHINGTON - Fifty-one percent of Israeli Jews have a negative view of U.S. President Barack Obama, while 41 percent feel positive toward him, according to a poll released yesterday by the Saban Center for Middle East Policy.

The world figure most admired by Israeli Jews is German Chancellor Angela Merkel, followed by former U.S. President Bill Clinton, with Obama in third place.

Not surprisingly, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is the world leader most disliked by Israeli Jews.

Some 62 percent of Israeli Jews polled want Israel to do more to promote comprehensive peace with the Arabs, but about half of Israeli Jews believe that Arabs would not accept a solution to the conflict.

Twenty-seven percent of Jewish Israelis reject withdrawing from territories occupied during the 1967 Six-Day War and establishing a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, even if all Arab states were to recognize Israel.

Three-quarters of Israeli Jews want the Palestinians to accept Israel as a "Jewish State" but only a third demand such acceptance before a peace agreement is reached.

Seventy-one percent of Israeli Jews accept accommodating non-Jewish citizens by defining Israel as "the homeland of the Jewish people and of all its citizens."

The poll also queried the American public and Israeli Arabs. Among Israeli Arabs, 36 percent identify themselves as Arab first, 22 percent as Palestinian first, 19 percent as Muslim first and 12 percent as Israeli first.

Nearly two-thirds of Israeli Arabs said that the right of return of Palestinian refugees is important and "cannot be comprised in any way."

Some 58 percent of Israeli Arabs reject transferring Arab towns in Israel to a new Palestinian state. The percentage of Israeli Arabs holding positive views of Obama has dropped from 70 percent in 2009 to 45 percent in 2010.

Among those queried in the U.S., 72 percent of Americans supported U.S. efforts to mediate an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. Forty-one percent said that the diplomatic efforts of the Obama administration are at the "right level," while 30 percent said that the administration is not trying hard enough and 21 percent said it is trying too hard.

Two-thirds of the Americans polled want the administration to "lean toward neither side" in mediating a peace deal, while a quarter want it to lean toward Israel and 2 percent want it to lean toward the Palestinians.