By Robert Berger
Jerusalem 29 August 2009
Tense relations between the United States and Israel are having a negative effect on Israeli public opinion.
A new Jerusalem Post poll shows that only 4 percent of Israeli Jews see U.S. President Barack Obama's policies as pro-Israel. That is a drop of 2 percent from the previous poll in June. The survey found that 51 percent of Israelis see the Obama administration as pro-Palestinian, while 35 percent consider it neutral.
Mr. Obama has lost popularity in Israel because of American pressure to halt Jewish settlement expansion in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
"There's quite a bit of concern and disappointment in President Obama, in the sense that Israel [is] sort of under attack on all of these settlement issues, on Jerusalem," said Israeli analyst Dan Diker. "And I think that many Israelis are saying, 'Well wait a second, where is the friendly U.S. administration that Democratic and Republican administrations have been known to be?'"
President Obama's supporters say he is trying to take a more "even-handed" approach to the Middle East conflict than his predecessors. But his outreach to the Muslim world, and especially his landmark speech in Cairo in June, are seen by many Israelis as an attempt to appease the Arabs at the expense of the Jewish state.
"President Obama has been all over the Middle East, he's been in Turkey, he's been in Saudi Arabia, he's been in Cairo, and giving major speeches, and he has not spoken to or with the Israeli people or really sort of extended his hand as a partner in this entire process," he said.
Israelis had a much more positive view of President George W. Bush. According to a Jerusalem Post poll in May, 88 percent of Israelis considered Mr. Bush's policies to be pro-Israel.
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