Opinion

Israel has retained its high favorability among Americans

The Gallup poll of country favorability reflects the unique bottom-up phenomenon of the United States’ attitude towards Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett meets with U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, March 27, 2021. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett meets with U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, March 27, 2021. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90.
Yoram Ettinger
Yoram Ettinger
Yoram Ettinger is a former ambassador and head of Second Thought: A U.S.-Israel Initiative.

According to the February annual Gallup poll of country favorability,71% of Americans accord Israel a “very favorable” and “mostly favorable” rating. This matches Israel’s average favorability since 2013, compared to 58% in 2002, 71% in 2012, 69% in 2019 and 75% in February 2021. Israel’s all-time high favorability was in February 1991 (79%) in the aftermath of the January-February Iraqi Scud missiles striking Tel Aviv.

Israel is ranked seventh among countries rated by Gallup, trailing Canada, Britain, France, Japan, Germany and India. However, none of these countries have been targeted—as has Israel—for daily criticism by the U.S. State Department (which fiercely opposed Israel’s establishment in 1948), the United Nations, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, CNN, MSNBC and many of the political and social-science departments on North American campuses.

While Israel is considered favorably by 71% of Americans, the Palestinian Authority earned a meager 27% favorability rating, at the bottom of the favorability scale along with Cuba, 40%; Pakistan, 21%; China, 20% (an all-time low); Libya, 19%; Iraq, 16%; Iran, 13%; Afghanistan, 12%; Russia, 12%; and North Korea, 10%.

Furthermore, Israel has retained a high level of favorability among all three major U.S. political groups: 63% of (mostly moderate) Democrats, 71% of Independents and 81% of Republicans. At the same time, the Palestinian Authority received a 38% favorability rating among Democrats, 29% among Independents and 14% among Republicans.

The 2022 Gallup poll reflects the unique bottom-up phenomenon of the U.S. attitude towards Israel, which is largely determined by the U.S. constituency’s traditional affinity towards the Jewish state, contrary to the top-down phenomenon of U.S. policy towards other foreign countries, which is generally determined by the White House and the State Department.

The poll also demonstrates the wide gap between most Americans (who are largely supportive of Israel) and the “elite” media (which is systematically critical of Israel).

Israel’s 71% favorability rating attests to the fact that most Americans realize the inaccuracy and immorality of the State Department’s claim of moral equivalence between Israel and the Palestinians. They identify Israel as a reliable, democratic and productive ally, and view the P.A. as a member of the rogue entities of the world, associated with terrorism, in general, and enemies and rivals of the United States, in particular.

Irrespective of The New York Times’ attitude towards Israel, most Americans empathize with Israel culturally, historically, ideologically and strategically. They identify the Jewish state with key precepts that have shaped American culture, civic and judicial systems since the Early Pilgrims and the Founding Fathers, such as faith, the Mosaic legacy, civil liberties, patriotism, optimism, defiance of odds and a can-do mentality.

Moreover, they consider Israel a unique force and dollar multiplier for the U.S. economy and defense in the face of mutual threats (e.g., Iran’s Shi’ite ayatollahs, Sunni Islamic terrorism) and in the pursuit of a U.S. commercial and military technological edge over China, Russia and Europe.

Israel’s 71% favorability demonstrates that most Americans subscribe to the following assessment made by Adm. James Stavridis, former Supreme Commander of NATO: “Our best military partner in the region, by far, is Israel. … It truly is a case of two nations that are unarguably stronger together.”

Yoram Ettinger is a former ambassador and head of Second Thought: A U.S.-Israel Initiative.

This article was first published by The Ettinger Report.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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