WASHINGTON – US President Barack Obama continues to be popular among American Jews – in fact 15% more popular than Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to a poll conducted by Israeli lobby J-Street, which is affiliated with the Left and competes with the Right-leaning veteran lobby group AIPAC.
According to the poll, Obama managed to maintain his popularity among 59% of American Jews, even after the harsh US condemnation that followed Israel's declaration it had approved construction of 1,600 housing units in east Jerusalem.
In contrast, only 44% of American Jews continued to pledge their support to Netanyahu. The prime minister was received warmly during the AIPAC convention earlier in the week, but was later subject to what was described as a major embarrassment during his visit to the White House. The results of the poll were collected prior to these two events.
Pollster Jim Gerstein told Ynet the survey results prove that whoever thinks Jewish support of the American president has been declining is "detached from reality."
According to Gerstein, Obama's approval among his Jewish constituencies continues to be higher by 15% than that of the general public. The pollster added that Israel's declaration of construction in Jerusalem annoyed not only Obama but also American Jews, who thought Israel's behavior was inadequate based on its close relations with the US.
Gerstein noted that 55% of American Jews said the US was doing the right thing by criticizing Israel – and thought the issue was particularly sensitive because it involved Jerusalem.
Putting pressure on IsraelThe poll also revealed that 82% of Jews support the US administration's effort to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. On the question of whether US criticism should have been expressed behind closed doors or in public, 71% responded that the US should maintain an active role, even if it means putting pressure on both sides at the cost of public disagreement.
Gerstein said the poll did not specifically ask about the type of pressure that should be placed; however Israel's declaration vis-à-vis construction during US Vice President Joe Biden's visit was clearly seen as an insult by most American Jews.
The survey also asked American Jews what they considered the most important topics during the November midterm congressional elections.
Israel appeared in seventh place while Iran ranked at no.14, with only 2% of respondents claiming it was a topic of high importance. The issues ranked top priority were the US economy (55%), health insurance (41%), deficit and overspending (17%), social security and Medicare (16%), terror and national security (13%) and the war in Iraq and Afghanistan (10%).