He swept to power with the support of 78% of American Jews. But has Barack Obama become the bane of Israeli Jews?
"It looks like American Jews 'made their bed' with Obama and Now we All have to sleep in it !"
A gulf between American and Israeli Jews was evident even before Obama moved into the White House. Just a third of Israelis would have endorsed him had they been allowed to vote, polling indicated, while almost half would have chosen John McCain.
In recent weeks, several public opinion surveys have suggested that Obama's popularity has dropped far below this already low point. A Jerusalem Post-commissioned poll released on June 19 reported that only 6% of Jewish Israelis consider his views pro-Israel.
To Rafi Smith, head of the polling firm that conducted the survey, it is clear what is happening. Israelis, he said, see Obama "as the opposite of George Bush, who was perceived as the biggest friend of Israel. Obama is seen as a 180-degree turn."
In a separate poll his Smith Research Institute conducted in May, when asked to assess George W. Bush on the same criteria of whether he was "pro-Israel," some 88% of respondents said he was.
That May poll also suggests that Israelis have cooled significantly toward Obama since his Washington meeting that same month with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Before that meeting, 31% of Israeli Jews viewed Obama as pro-Israel, according to the poll, which was conducted before the summit. The phrasing of the question on Obama in the May and June polls was identical.
Smith's recent figures are stark, but there is evidence to suggest they are not freak results.
A Tel Aviv University poll conducted just before Obama's high-profile June 4 address in Cairo to the Muslim world found that when it comes to solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, only 5% said he favors the Israeli side. Both polls put the percentage viewing Obama as pro-Palestinian in the 50s and the percentage viewing him as neutral in the 30s.
There has been no polling on support for Obama among American Jews since he met with Netanyahu, but a Gallup tracking poll, released May 1, put the figure at 79%, and experts believe it has not changed significantly since.
According to some, the Israeli polling leaves no room for doubt: American and Israeli Jews never have been so at odds over a president. ?Israelis are dismayed by what they perceive as the generally hostile approach he has adopted in dealing with the Jewish state,? wrote Caroline Glick, one of Israel?s best-known hawkish journalists, in the June 24 edition of The Jerusalem Post.
Steven Spiegel, professor of political science at University of California, Los Angeles, also detects an ideological clash. "American Jews are more to the left on issues, and Israeli Jews, especially after the election, are more to the right," he told the Forward, referring to the February election that brought Netanyahu to power.