An annual survey of American Jews finds support for President Obama’s Mideast policy, though by narrower margins than backed him in November.
The American Jewish Committee’s Annual Survey of American Jewish Opinion, which polled 800 American Jews between August 30 and September 17 of this year, found that 54% approve of President Obama’s handling of U.S.-Israel relations, to the 32% who disapprove. Only a slightly higher number, 59%, approve of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s handling of the relationship.
The survey finds that a full 70% of respondents called U.S.-Israel relations “somewhat positive,” and another 11% called them “very positive.”
But the survey also reveals real qualms among American Jews — more than three quarters of whom voted for Obama, according to exit polls, on the details of Israel policy. The survey found that 51% disagree “with the Obama Administration’s call for a stop to all new Israeli settlement construction.”
The survey also found a surge in support for military action against Iran, which more than half of American Jews now back.
“Clearly concerns are mounting over the international community’s apparent inability to deploy tough and resolute sanctions to confront a belligerent Iran determined to build nuclear weapons and missiles to deliver them,” said AJC Executive Director David Harris said in an accompanying press release
The survey also revealed no particular surge in optimism about a peaceful resolution in the Middle East: On the prospects for achieving a lasting peace between Israel and the Arabs, only 12 percent are more optimistic than a year ago, 23 percent are less optimistic, and 65 percent think the chances are the same, the survey found.
The survey also found a sharp divide within the Jewish community: Orthodox Jews (who represented just 9% of respondents, decreasing the quality of the data) were far harder on Obama than Reform, Conservative, and other Jews.
Only 14% of the Orthodox surveyed said they approved of Obama’s handling of the U.S.-Israel relationship, a figure closer to Israeli public opinion than to other American Jews.