A survey released on Friday shows that only 4 percent of Jewish Israelis believe President Obama’s policies are more pro-Israel than pro-Palestinian. Fifty-one percent believe that his policies are more pro-Palestinian than pro-Israel. Thirty-five percent believe Obama is neutral and 10 percent declined to express an opinion. No one, I hope, thought that the question presented a “false choice.”
The reactions to these results are rather amusing. According to the Jerusalem Post, the left — Meretz and Peace Now — argued that the survey shows Israelis do not yet realize the potential benefits of the regional peace initiative that Obama is advocating. However, its leaders expressed confidence that they eventually would. Peace Now secretary-general Yariv Oppenheimer said what matters most at this stage of the peace process is Obama’s reputation in the Arab world, and not in Israel.
This is what’s known as whistling through the graveyard. Obama’s “peace initiative” is probably a non-starter as long as most Israelis think he’s pro-Palestinian.
For the Palestinian reaction, the Jerusalem Post turned to Chicago-based Palestinian commentator Ray Hanania. According to Hanania, Israelis might have assumed wrongly that Obama would be pro-Israel because he shared a name with Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
In a more plausible account, Arye Eldad, a representative of the right-wing National Union party, stated:
Four percent of the public evidently didn’t understand the question. If they did, 99.9% would say that he is extremely anti-Israel. The only Israelis who would say he is pro-Israel are those who join Fatah and call for anti-Israel boycotts.
Finally, Likud’s Danny Danon expressed his hope that Obama’s “one-sidedness” would derail the Middle East peace process, because Israelis would urge Prime Minister Netanyahu to reject Obama’s pressure. Dannon pretty much nailed it when he said:
If at first we thought Obama was omnipotent, we see polls in Israel and in the US that the magic and nice words have finally begun to wear off. Obama’s extremism against Israel has united the population from center to Right behind Netanyahu.