Despite his rocky relationship with Israel and with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, a survey released Tuesday finds that American Jews still favor President Barack Obama for re-election.
The survey, conducted among 1,004 American Jews by the Washington-based Public Religion Research Institute, found that Obama has the same level of support, 62 percent, among American Jewish voters as during a comparable point in the 2008 race.
Three-in-ten Jewish voters said they prefer a Republican candidate over the incumbent president. Of those who supported Obama in 2008, an overwhelming majority say they would like to see him re-elected, 86 percent, while seven percent of Jewish voters who supported him in 2008 say they instead would support a Republican candidate in 2012.
Jewish voters who supported John McCain in 2008 demonstrate similar loyalty in their voting preferences, the survey found, with 92 percent reporting that they would prefer it if a Republican candidate won the election.
The survey also found that Israel is relatively low on the list of voting priorities for American Jewish voters. Only four percent of respondents said that Israel was the issue that would be most important to their vote. Instead, Jewish voters’ top priorities center around economic issues such as the economy (51 percent), the growing gap between the rich and the poor (15 percent), and health care and the federal deficit (10 percent).
The survey also found that by a margin of more than 2-to-1, American Jews say good diplomacy rather than military strength is the best way to ensure peace (63 percent vs. 25 percent, respectively).
However, in the case of Iran, if diplomacy and other deterrents fail, most American Jews say they would support military action. Nearly six-in-ten (59 percent) agreed that the U.S. should take military action to prevent Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon if economic sanctions are unable to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons program, compared to 37 percent who disagreed.
The 2012 Jewish Values Survey was conducted by Public Religion Research Institute among a random sample of 1,004 self-identified Jewish adults (ages 18 and older) who are part of the Knowledge Networks’ KnowledgePanel. Interviews were conducted online between February 23 and March 5, 2012.
A report on Sunday said the Obama administration is blaming Israel for the recent rise in global crude oil prices. The rise in fuel prices is deemed as harming the U.S. economy and has also hurt Obama in the polls as he seeks re-election in November.
The report in The World Tribune cited a leading U.S. analyst, Robert Satloff, who returned from talks with Israeli officials.
Satloff, executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said that the Israeli leadership saw Washington as attributing the higher gas prices to “Israel’s posturing” on Iran.
He added that the officials told him the Obama administration was staging a campaign to undermine Israel.
“I cannot underscore how deep and visceral the [Israeli] comments of the leaking that came out of Washington were,” Satloff said, noting Israel is alarmed by what officials determined were leaks by the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama of purported Israeli preparations to attack Iran.
The Israeli concerns come in the wake of a report in Foreign Policy magazine last week, according to which Israel has purchased an airfield in Azerbaijan on Iran's northern border, prompting the United States to watch very closely.
The Americans believe Israel may use the site as a springboard for an attack on Iran's nuclear plants, or as a landing and refueling spot following one. The site could also be used for aircraft needed for search, rescue and recovery in the wake of an attack.
Azeri president Ilham Aliyev later dismissed the speculation and said, “Azerbaijan's territory will never be used to launch an attack against its neighbor, Iran.”