Israelis remain wary of Obama

Monday, May 04, 2009 |  Israel Today Staff

A recent poll conducted by Bar-Ilan University's Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies reveals that most Israelis still believe America is their closest friend and ally, but aren't too sure about its president.

Seventy-two percent of respondents said they have positive feelings toward America, and 68 percent view the US as Israel's most loyal ally. A 76 percent majority said they are sure the US would come to Israel's aid in the event of an existential emergency.

However, only one-third of the respondents (38%) said they consider US President Barack Obama a friend of the Jewish state. By comparison, 73 percent of Israelis considered former President George W. Bush a friend of Israel.

An overwhelming 80 percent majority said Obama will seek to better America's image in the Arab and Muslim worlds at Israel's expense.

Younger Israelis were more skeptical of Obama's intentions than respondents over the age of 40, but the US president has failed to make believers of a majority in either age group.

In an interview with The Jerusalem Post on Sunday, former US House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Israelis are right to be wary of Obama.

The Obama Administration is "systematically setting up the most decisive confrontation that we've ever seen," said Gingrich. "There's almost an eagerness to take on the Israeli government to make a point with the Arab world."

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