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Polls: Israel Needs US, US Loves Israel

February polls in Israel and the United States provide some guidance for those trying to see how the two longtime allies will or will not coordinate policy in the standoff with Iran.

From a Brookings poll of 500 Israelis in February 2012:

A plurality of Israelis (42%) would support a military strike by Israel against Iran’s nuclear facilities only if Israel gains American support for the strike. An additional 34% of Israelis would not support such a strike at all, while 19% say Israel should strike even without the support of the U.S.

That’s a low percentage of Israelis who favor a unilateral strike. In the event of an attack, however, most Israelis polled (51 percent) are confident a strike would hamper Iran’s nuclear project. But a substantial minority (19 percent) think it would have no effect at all.

The Obama administration has argued against an Israeli attack on Iran, instead preferring to broaden sanctions and work through diplomatic back channels. That, coupled with the low enthusiasm for a preemptive attack and the high fear among Israelis (68 percent) that Hezbollah would join Iranian action against Israel, suggests that those pushing an early, unilateral strike in Israel have some hills to climb.

Meanwhile the latest Gallup poll to examine US attitudes toward the Jewish state (among others) finds that Israel is as popular as ever among Americans.  71 percent of those polled told Gallup that they have a favorable view of Israel, compared to 19 percent who felt that way about the Palestinians. (10 percent said they had a favorable view of Iran.) 80 percent of Republicans, 71 percent of independents and 65 percent of Democrats expressed favorable views about Israel.

Asked to choose between Israelis and Palestinians, 61 percent of Americans picked the Israelis compared to 19 percent choosing the Palestinians, with majorities of Republicans, Democrats and independents favoring the Jewish state.

Americans don’t want a war with Iran, but they don’t want Iran to get nuclear weapons and they want Israel to be safe.  The path forward is not clear, but with Israelis wary of acting without the US, and Americans not wanting to see Israel in danger, it seems that powerful forces in both countries will be pushing President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu to coordinate their approaches to Iran.

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  • Walter Sobchak

    I think Barry Rubin nailed this one a couple of weeks ago:

    And nothing has happened in the interim to change the situation.

    If I were in charge of Israel, I would be doing four things:

    1. Persuade the US to build an airbase in the Negev, with a couple of armored brigades as guards, and a large contingent of missile defense and advanced radars, also to use Haifa as a home port for the a squadron of Aegis ships.

    2. Instal advanced anti-missile radars on Mt. Hermon. Make it clear that an Iranian nuclear weapon is the absolute end of any idea of returning the Golan to Syria.

    3. Embark on a major civil defense program, to equip every residence and commercial building in Israel with underground shelters with 2 weeks of food and water. The Swiss created such a system during the cold war.

    “La Place de la Concorde Suisse” by John McPhee

    4. Make it clear to everyone that the Palestinians are hostages for Iran’s good behavior. And that Mosque, it has been mortgaged.

  • SteveMG

    The above are good ideas for Israel but what do we say to the Saudis? Or the Egyptians? Or the Jordanians? The Gulf States?

    The concern is that while we may be able to contain a nuclear Iran (we can) we simply cannot contain a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

    Do we extend our nuclear umbrella over all of the Middle East? I don’t think so nor do I think the Saudis et al. will believe us anyway.

    Iran must be stopped from getting the bomb. Period.

    How the hell we do that is anyone’s guess.

  • Mick The Reactionary

    @Walter Sobchak:

    “4. Make it clear to everyone that the Palestinians are hostages for Iran’s good behavior.”

    A least intelligent assertion of the day.

    Iran’s ruling Islamo-craizies said that even if Iran becomes a big glass lake after nuking Israel, it is an excellent result because 1 Billion strong Dar Al-Islam will continue Jihad.

    If, as they said, they are perfectly willing to sacrifice all iranians, why would they care one bit about Palis?

    Anyone who knows iranians even a bit, knows what do they really think about Arabs in general and Palis in particular (this family site is censored by pre-adolesent and very sensitive Victorian-era girls, so I cannot say what exactly iranians think about Palis away from PC crowd).

    “And that Mosque, it has been mortgaged.”
    Another very unintelligent statement.

    Why don’t we let them have their Mosque, their medieval murderous ways and their people. Why mass immigration from extremist Muslim countries continues unabated and without any filtering?

  • Kris

    Walter@1, once Israel follows your first proposal, your second and fourth ones are subject to American sufferance.

  • Kenny

    Some in the U.S. may love Israel even to the point of thinking that it is our 51st state.

  • jen

    I am morally offended that American support Israel’s policies, in the face of all the devastation they have cause to the Palestinians and US. Our foreign policies in the middle is not run by the President and congress, on the contrary its control by APAC, here were a foreign government dictating US policies. Read Mearsheimer and Walt” The Israel Lobby and US foreign Policy” to a gist of victim rules. The question is why isn’t there concerned about Israel’s nukes. Why the double standards? In the New Yorker John Cassidy as the very question, “What About Israel’s Nukes”:
    The London-based Institute of Strategic Studies says Israel has “up to 200” warheads loaded on land-based Jericho 1 and Jericho 2 short- and medium-range missiles. Jane’s, the defense-information company, estimates that the over-all number of warheads is between a hundred and three hundred, which puts the Israeli nuclear arsenal roughly on a par with the British and French capabilities. And some of these warheads are widely believed to have been loaded onto the new Jericho 3 intercontinental ballistic missile, which has a range of up to four thousand five hundred miles—meaning it could theoretically strike targets in Europe and Asia.
    I am appalled by this ignorant from of blind faith. Israel has a death wish and it’s taking American with them. There is no logical or moral reason or justification for the US to have an unconditional relationship Israel. They are a major problem and always will be because they believe they are chosen, but then again that depends on the nature of their God, so I ask what does love have to do with common sense? American need get their heads out of the sand, and use their GOD given mind to think.

  • jen

    Take President Kennedy letter to Israel:
    JFK’s Concern Over Israel’s Nuclear Bomb Program
    JFK’s Letter To Israeli PM Eshkol July 5, 1963
    Dear Mr. Prime Minister (Eshkol),
    It gives me great personal pleasure to extend congratulations as you assume your responsibilities as Prime Minister of Israel. You have our friendship and best wishes in your new tasks. It is on one of these that I am writing you at this time.

    You are aware, I am sure, of the exchange which I had with Prime Minister Ben-Gurion concerning American visits (ie: inspections -ed) to Israel’s nuclear facility at Dimona. Most recently, the Prime Minister wrote to me on May 27. His words reflected a most intense personal consideration of a problem that I know is not easy for your Government, as it is not for mine. We welcomed the former Prime Minister’s strong reaffirmation that Dimona will be devoted exclusively to peaceful purposes and the reaffirmation also of Israel’s willingness to permit periodic visits (ie: inspections -ed) to Dimona.

    I regret having to add to your burdens so soon after your assumption of office, but I feel the crucial importance of this problem necessitates my taking up with you at this early date certain further considerations, arising out of Mr. Ben-Gurion’s May 27 letter, as to the nature and scheduling of such visits.
    I am sure you will agree that these visits should be as nearly as possible in accord with international standards, thereby resolving all doubts as to the peaceful intent of the Dimona project. As I wrote Mr. Ben-Gurion, this Government’s commitment to and support of Israel could be seriously jeopardized if it should be thought that we were unable to obtain reliable information on a subject as vital to the peace as the question of Israel’s effort in the nuclear field.

    Therefore, I asked our scientists to review the alternative schedules of visits we and you had proposed. If Israel’s purposes are to be clear beyond reasonable doubt, I believe that the schedule which would best serve our common purposes would be a visit early this summer, another visit in June 1964, and thereafter at intervals of six months. I am sure that such a schedule should not cause you any more difficulty than that which Mr. Ben-Gurion proposed in his May 27 letter. It would be essential, and I understand that Mr. Ben-Gurion’s letter was in accord with this, that our scientist have access to all areas of the Dimona site and to any related part of the complex, such as fuel fabrication facilities or plutonium separation plant, and that sufficient time to be allotted for a thorough examination.

    Knowing that you fully appreciate the truly vital significance of this matter to the future well-being of Israel, to the United States, and internationally, I am sure our carefully considered request will have your most sympathetic attention.
    John F. Kennedy
    we know what happen to our president, but not love

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