Washington reiterates support for Israel
HILARY LEILA KRIEGER, jpost correspondent, washington , THE JERUSALEM POST
The Obama Administration insistently reiterated its support for Israel this weekend after a Jerusalem Post poll found that only 6 percent of Jewish Israelis now consider Barack Obama's presidency to be pro-Israel.
The poll, which has a margin of error of 4.5%, was conducted by Smith Research among a representative sample of 500 Israeli Jewish adults last week.
Fifty percent of those sampled consider the policies of Obama's administration more pro-Palestinian than pro-Israeli, and 36% said the policies were neutral. The remaining 8% did not express an opinion.
The numbers were a stark contrast to the last poll published May 17, on the eve of the meeting between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Obama at the White House. In that poll, 31% labeled the Obama administration pro-Israel, 14% considered it pro-Palestinian and 40% said it was neutral. The other 15% declined to give an opinion.
The White House declined to comment on the specifics of the poll. But National Security Council spokesman Mike Hammer told the Post that "we remain committed to peace and security for Israel."
Hammer recalled the line from Obama's recent speech in Cairo in which he said, "America's strong bonds with Israel are well known. This bond is unbreakable," one of several recent reiterations of strong US support for Israel.
Ira Forman of the National Jewish Democratic Council also emphasized that Obama has repeatedly affirmed the US-Israel special relationship and that he "is a great friend to Israel."
Forman added that despite the tough going when it came to the president's peace efforts, "The absence of a peace process is more harmful to Israel and the United States' interests than trying to keep the process alive and moving forward even if you know it's very difficult."
He also contended that polls of Israeli attitudes towards US leaders were "very fickle," noting other recent surveys giving Obama greater support. "I have no doubt that Israelis will remember Barack Obama and his presidency as one that was tremendously favorable to Israel when all is said and done," he said."
Matt Dorf, who did Jewish outreach for the Democratic National Committee during the presidential campaign, was more blunt when it came to the survey results.
"I don't trust the poll," he said, calling the Post a newspaper that has "not been friendly toward Obama."
He added that "among those who know him best he enjoys tremendous support and we trust him when it comes to Israel and Israel's security," citing by way of comparison a poll commissioned by the progressive J Street lobby finding that 73% of American Jews have a favorable opinion of Obama.
The Republican Jewish Coalition, however, interpreted the Post/Smith Research survey results differently.
"It's a very sad day when an American president can make the Israeli people believe that he is more pro-Palestinian than pro-Israeli," said RJC spokeswoman Shari Hillman.
Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.