(August 22, 2018 / JNS) A new poll released this week highlights the growing partisan gap on Israel in the United States.
Compared to 64 percent of Republicans, just 17 percent of Democrats support Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to a Gallup poll released on Tuesday.
At the same time, Netanyahu received a 30 percent favorable rating from Independents.
Among the six world leaders listed, the score by Democrats is the third-lowest approval rating, preceded by Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korea head Kim Jong Un, who have a Democratic approval rating of 4 percent and 2 percent, respectively.
Overall, Netanyahu received a 37 percent approval rating and a 29 percent disapproval rating among adults.
Democratic support was higher for German Chancellor Angela Merkel (53 percent), British Prime Minister Theresa May (54 percent) and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (67 percent).
Meanwhile, Republican approval ratings for these world leaders stood at 48 percent for May, 30 percent for Trudeau, 27 percent for Merkel, 27 percent for Putin and 8 percent for Kim.
The results of the poll are not surprising given Netanyahu’s infamous battles with former President Barack Obama and his current warm relationship with U.S. President Donald Trump.
Netanyahu and Obama had notable disagreements on the Iran nuclear deal and the Israeli-Arab peace process. Nevertheless, the two leaders did come together towards the end of Obama’s term to secure a $38 billion, 10-year U.S. military aid deal with Israel.
The Israeli prime minister has forged a much closer relationship with Trump, praising him for moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal.
“In our highly polarized politics, if you look like Trump’s best friend, Democrats aren’t going to love you,” Democratic strategist Mark Mellman told JNS. “It’s not fair, it’s not right, but it’s the reality in the current political environment.”
“All of us in the pro-Israel community, Democrats and Republicans, as well as the Israeli government must do more to ensure that support U.S.-Israel relationship remains bipartisan,” Democratic strategist Aaron Keyak told JNS. “Given Prime Minster Netanyahu’s enthusiastic embrace of President Trump, it’s no surprise to see that Democrats aren’t rushing to show support.”
“But to be clear,” he continued “there are plenty of us who don’t support a lot of the current government’s policies and still love Israel, and continue to fight for strengthening the U.S.-Israel relationship.”