WASHINGTON - A Gallup poll surveying US opinion on geopolitics singles out Israel as only foreign nation Americans feel favorably toward and also say that what happens there is vitally important to the US.
Americans remain most favorable towards English-speaking countries – Canada (92 percent view it as mostly favorable), Australia (89 percent) and Great Britain (also 89 percent). Additional countries the majority of Americans view favorably are Japan (82), India (69), Israel (63), Mexico (60), Egypt (60), Russia (53) percent and Jordan (51).
The country viewed as least-favorable by Americans is Iran (9 percent), followed by North Korea (12), Iraq (15), Palestinian Authority (16), Syria (21), Afghanistan (23), Cuba (25), Pakistan (28), Saudi Arabia (35), Venezuela (41) and China (48).
Ratings of France are now at their highest level since the start of the Iraq war and now stand at 57 percent favorable, up three points from 2006. Prewar levels typically stood at 70 percent. Ratings of Germany have now returned to prewar levels (83 percent).
Relavant and less-relevant enemies
Gallup also examined the perceived importance of foreign nations, stacking this data against the figures pertaining to favorability.
The five countries deemed by Americans as the world's 'hot spots' - nations that a majority of Americans view unfavorably and say that what happens in each is "vitally important" to US interests - are Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Afghanistan, and China.
Countries viewed as 'less relevant enemies' – unfavorable but not important – are Pakistan (47 percent), Syria (42), Cuba (31) and Venezuela (29).
Of the countries viewed both favorably and important, only Israel was named, with 55 percent of Americans deeming it a 'vital friend.'
Countries viewed as 'low-pertinence friends', favorable but unimportant, are Great Britain (43 percent), Mexico (42), Japan (40), Russia (40), Canada (36) and India (28).
A review of Gallup data regarding US opinion of Israel:
According to the current poll 63 percent of Americans view Israel favorably, in 2006 the figure stood at 68 percent while in 2005 it reached a peak at 69 percent. In 2004 it stood at 59, in 2003 it was identical to this year's poll (63 percent) and in 2002 the figure stood at only 56 percent. To compare in the early 90s less than 50 percent of Americans viewed Israel with favor.
"The broad support of the American people to Israel is of the utmost strategic importance to Israel and it must be nurtured and maintained," Israeli ambassador to the United States Salai Meridor told Ynet in response to the poll's findings. "The United States understands that Israel stand with it against extremists threatening world security. The results of this poll give expression to the shared values and interests between Israel and the US," said Meridor.