Despite President Barack Obama’s overtures to the Arab world and his perceived coldness to the Jewish state, a full 70 percent of Americans say Israel is a U.S. ally in a new poll by Rasmussen Reports. Eight percent see it as an enemy and 16 percent see it as something in between.
The survey’s authors say: “Of course, none of the Islamic countries comes close to the positive feelings most adults here have toward Israel.”
Egypt, the most highly regarded Islamic country, still does much worse than Israel: thirty-nine percent see it as an ally, while nine percent say it is an enemy and 42 percent say it falls somewhere in between. This means that most Americans see Egypt as either an enemy or something between an enemy and a friend.
Saudi Arabia is the second most favored Arab country, but 25 percent still see it as an enemy. Twenty-three percent see it as an ally, and 46 percent as somewhere in between.
Eighty-one percent of American adults believe Palestinian leaders must recognize Israel’s right to exist as part of any Middle Eastern peace agreement.
The report’s authors explain that America’s close ties to Israel are undoubtedly “explained in part by the sharp contrast between the views Americans have of the Islamic countries in the region and how they feel about the Jewish state.”
A dampening of optimism
Twenty-one percent say their country’s relationship with the Muslim world will be better a year from now. Twenty five percent believe that the relationship will get worse and 44 percent estimate that it will be roughly the same a year from now.
At the beginning of June, just before Obama gave a speech to the “Muslim world” in Egypt, 28 percent of voters said the U.S.’s relationship with the Muslim world would be better a year hence. Twenty-one percent predicted the relationship would be worse, and 45 percent thought it would stay the same.
In other words, the months that have passed have seen a dampening of American’s optimism regarding relations with the Muslim world.
Seventy percent of Americans say Iran is an enemy of the United States. When they are asked which country poses the greatest security threat to the United States, the top position “routinely seesaws between Iran and North Korea,” the report’s summary says.