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.