World Jewish opinions of U.S. President Barack Obama have seemed to have slipped a bit recently, especially following his “reach out to Islam” address in Cairo and his subsequent meeting with Israel P.M. Binyamin Netanyahu. This fact is especially true in Israel where the country’s Jewish population (now the largest in any one country) is becoming increasingly concerned with Obama’s plans toward a “two state solution” for Israel and the Palestinians. This together with remarks made by U.S. Sec. of State Hillary Clinton, during Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s recent visit to Washington DC, appear to be brewing up a very bitter “lager” (or is it stout) that we living in Israel will eventually have to swallow.
These feelings of apprehension, especially by Jews in Israel, was reflected recently by a poll conducted jointly by the Jerusalem Post and the Smith Research Institute, regarding Jewish “before and after” feelings towards the Obama Administration.
Obama appears to have more than just tried to reach out to both world Muslims and the Palestinians, whose situation he has referred to as “intolerable”.
When asked whether Jews felt the Obama Administration was pro-Israel, pro-Palestinian, or somewhere in between, the answer before the Cairo speech and Netanyahu White House visit was:
Pro-Israel: 31%, Pro-Palestinian: 14%, and Neutral: 40%
The response following the address and Netanyahu’s visit turned out a bit different:
Pro-Israel: 6%, Pro-Palestinian: 50%, Neutral: 36%
Another key post Cairo Address question, regarding freezing of construction and “expansion” in large settlement blocs like Gush Etzion, Ma’aleh Adumim , and Ariel, also indicated the respondents’ concerns:
In favor of construction freeze: 27%, Against: 69%, No-opinion: 4%
The post address poll was conducted on June 16/17 among 500 Jewish adults (their place of residence not indicated) and with a 4.5% margin of error. The pre-address poll was conducted on May 17/18, among a similar number of respondents, their residences also not noted.
When asked how they felt about the previous Bush Administrations feelings towards Israel, the response also indicated a difference in feelings now emanating from the White House:
Pro-Israel: 88%, Pro-Palestinian 2%, Neutral: 7%
And these feelings were despite remarks by former secretaries of state Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice concerning the “road map” for Israel Palestinian relations, and the security barrier being built between Israel and the PA controlled areas in the West Bank.
The Obama Administration’s disapproval of what is referred to as “natural growth” in the above mentioned settlement blocs may have been what is causing the most concern among Jewish Israelis – so strong in fact that Israel F.M. Lieberman made a comment towards this issue during his visit with Sec. of State Clinton: “All over the world, people living in various locations are born, get married, and die. Why is this fact any different in areas where Israeli Jews now live (i.e., the settlements)?” He was perhaps referring to whether Jewish families living in these settlement blocs will be prevented from “natural expansion”, i.e., marriages and births, in addition to a freeze on new housing construction in these locations.
Opinion polls always appear to reflect the feelings of the persons conducting the interviews; and most certainly a similar poll conducted by another news media entity, such as Haaretz, CNN or Sky News would have had a different set of results. Or would it have?