Israel Maintains Positive Image in U.S.

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The FINANCIAL — As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Donald Trump meet in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, 71% of Americans have a favorable view of Israel and 27% an unfavorable view. That represents the fourth straight year that Israel’s favorable rating has been 70% or higher.

From 2005 through 2012, Israel’s favorable score varied between 63% and 71%, but with most readings below 70%. Before that, it was more volatile, surging to 79% during the 1991 Gulf War but registering below 60% at times in 1989, 1991, 1992, 2000, 2002 and 2004.

Gallup asks Americans to give their impression of Israel and numerous other countries each year as part of its annual February World Affairs survey. This year’s survey was conducted Feb. 1-5 and found 29% viewing Israel very favorably, 42% mostly favorably, 21% mostly unfavorably and 6% very unfavorably. Just 8% have no opinion of the Jewish state.

Israel enjoys a positive image among all major U.S. demographic and political groups, but scores particularly well with Republicans (81% view it favorably) and adults 65 and older (77%). While a majority of Democrats view Israel favorably, the 61% doing so is the lowest of any major subgroup, according to Gallup.

Netanyahu’s Image Generally Positive

Although Netanyahu himself receives more positive than negative reviews from Americans, his 49% favorable rating from U.S. adults is significantly lower than the rating of the country he governs. Another 30% view him unfavorably, while 21% — higher than the 8% for Israel — have no opinion of him.

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Seventy-three percent of Republicans view Netanyahu favorably and only 11% unfavorably. At the same time, he sparks net-negative reviews from Democrats — 32% favorable and 41% unfavorable — a pattern that emerged after Netanyahu took on President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran in 2015.

Netanyahu’s image is also slightly negative among adults aged 18 to 29, but that may be partly attributable to their greater unfamiliarity with him.

Bottom Line

Israel is broadly liked in the U.S., with a favorable rating hovering near 70% in recent years. At 49%, Netanyahu’s U.S. favorable rating falls well short of this but is net positive. Meanwhile, Trump is struggling with low job approval ratings, including an especially weak rating on foreign affairs. Wednesday’s meeting with Netanyahu thus presents an opportunity for Trump to boost those ratings by engaging in friendly diplomacy.

While Americans sympathize more with the Israelis than the Palestinians in the regional dispute, they have long considered the conflict a threat to U.S. interests. Given this, Trump could also benefit in Americans’ eyes if he is seen actively working toward a solution — what he has called the “ultimate deal.”

 

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