WASHINGTON – Despite recent friction with Israel, a majority of America's Jews still support their president. The Jewish community continues to be a strong support base for President Obama.
Some 57% of US Jews support Obama versus 38% who are opposed to his policies. However, these figures reflect the downward trend in overall American support for the president. In the past presidential elections, some 80% of American Jews voted for Obama.
The annual poll carried out by the American Jewish Committee shows that 55% of American Jews approve of the manner in which Obama is handling US-Israel relations, versus 37% who disapprove.
Members of the Jewish community are aware of the particularly tense relations between the two countries recently. Only 10% believe that the state if relations between Israel and the US is "very positive," versus a solid majority of 63% who claim that relations are "somewhat positive."
The poll was conducted in the first three weeks of March when frictions between the two allies erupted over Israel's approval of 1,600 housing units in Jerusalem's Ramat Shlomo neighborhood during Vice President Joe Biden's visit to Israel.
'Recognize Israel as Jewish state'
In response to whether they support the establishment of a Palestinian state, 48% of those polled responded in the positive, while 45% said they were opposed to such a move. Regarding West Bank settlements, near two-thirds said Israel must evacuate at least some of the settlements in a peace agreement with the Palestinians.
However, 61% of American Jews are opposed to compromising on the status of Jerusalem as Israel's united capital, according to the poll.
Obama at a Passover seder held in White House (Photo: AP)
The poll also reveals that the American Jewish community is suspicious of the intentions of Arab states. Three out of every four respondents said that the true goal of the Arabs is the destruction of Israel, and not returning occupied territory. Twenty percent did not agree with this evaluation.
In addition, 94% of American Jews believe that the Palestinians must be required to recognize Israel as a Jewish state as part of a final peace agreement.
On Iran's nuclear issue, 47% of the respondents said they approve of Obama's conduct with Tehran, versus 42% who said they are opposed to it. Despite this, nearly half of those polled believe that there is some chance Obama will stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
Regarding whether they support US military action against Iran, 53% said they are in support of such a move, with 40% responding they are opposed. Support for Israeli military action against Iran was a bit higher with 62% in favor and 33% opposed.
Less than a fifth US Jews defined themselves as Republican in the poll, in comparison with 50% who identified themselves as Democrats and 32% as Independents.
Regarding their Jewish identity, 10% identified themselves as Orthodox, 24% as Conservative, 26% as Reform, 2% as Reconstructionist, and 37% as "just Jewish." Eighty-five percent said their Jewish identity is important to them, and near three-fourths said that they feel close to some degree with Israel.