On different pages: Netanyahu and American Jews

The largest Jewish diaspora is located in the United States. So naturally, there is a very strong connection between American Jews and Israel. From this, one would think that the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, and American Jews would be in agreement on their choice for the next President of the United States. However, the situation could not be any more different.

President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu talk in the Oval Office on May 18, 2009.

The relationship between President Barack Obama and Netanyahu has been tested and strained by Iran’s nuclear program. The most recent hitch in the United States-Israel relationship regards Netanyahu’s demand for Obama to set a “red line” that Iran must not cross in order to prevent United States military intervention in the matter. However, Obama has stated that he will not set such a line but will do what is in the best interest of the American people. Setting a “red line” would be especially dangerous for Obama during this presidential election cycle because it would force his hand in the event that Iran did cross the line. The resulting actions would be detrimental to his campaign as he navigates an American public which is very sensitive to the topic of war in the Middle East.

This is just one example of the tension that has arisen between Netanyahu and Obama. Due to, in part, their somewhat strained relationship, Netanyahu is supporting the candidacy of Mitt Romney in the United States presidential election. First, Netanyahu and Romney have similar ideologies and positions regarding the Middle East, whether it is policies towards Iran’s nuclear program or the Arab Spring. Additionally, they have many of the same donors to their campaigns. Nineteen of Netanyahu’s wealthiest American donors have also given money to Mr. Romney’s campaign. One of Netanyahu’s most well-known supporters is Sheldon Adelson. Adelson indirectly supports Netanyahu through the financing of an Israeli paper called the Israel Hayom which is pro-Netanyahu and right leaning. He also has pledged to give Romney $100 million to defeat Obama in the general election. The ideological and financial similarities between Netanyahu and Romney are clear and it explains why Netanyahu supports Romney’s bid for the presidency.

Mitt Romney meets with Prime Minister Netanyahu in Jerusalem on July 29, 2012.

However, there is a large disconnect between Netanyahu and American Jews. American Jews overwhelmingly support Obama over Romney. In a recent national poll of Jewish voters conducted by the American Jewish Committee, 65 percent of American Jews said they supported Obama and only 24 percent said they supported Romney. This huge advantage for Obama is also heavily pronounced in key battleground states such as Florida and Ohio. In a poll conducted in Ohio during September, 64 percent of Jews said they supported Obama and only 29 percent said they support Romney. Clearly, the views of American Jews and Netanyahu are completely different with regards as to who should be the next President of the United States. Unfortunately, Obama’s advantage among Jewish voters in the United States has not helped to improve Netanyahu and the President’s relationship.

Regardless of the disconnect between Netanyahu and American Jews, the people of Israel have one major concern: preserving Israel’s strong relationship with the United States. In “America becomes a double-edged sword for Netanyahu” from Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper, it states that surveys of public opinion show that Israeli’s are more concerned about losing the strategic relationship with the United States than the fear of an Iranian nuclear bomb. This provides support that Israelis may decide to support Obama and American Jews so that the relationship between the two countries will be strengthened. If the preservation of the relationship with the United States is extremely importance, then maybe the Israeli people should elect a new Prime Minister in the upcoming Israeli election who is more willing to cooperate with the American President. Unfortunately for Netanyahu, public opinion polls in the United States indicate that Obama is most likely going to be reelected. Therefore, there is only a greater possibility that the relationship between the United States and Israel will continue to be strained as long as Netanyahu is in power.

Do you think that Netanyahu is jeopardizing Israel’s relationship with the United States? Do you think that under a Romney presidency the relationship between the United States and Israel would be stronger? In general, do you think that the majority of Israelis support Obama or Romney? Why?


One thought on “On different pages: Netanyahu and American Jews

  1. I have no evidence, but I’ve heard that the Jewish support for Obama in this election is far below what it was in 2008. Anyone?

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