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Friday, November 27, 2020

Do Israelis Support Trump?

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More than half of all Israelis believe that President Donald Trump will be a better president than Joe Biden. Among Jews, almost two-thirds believe that Trump is the better candidate for Israel (60%). About one in four Israelis (28%) do not have a firm opinion on the matter. Even Arab Israelis tend to think that Trump is better for Israel (44% do not have a clear opinion).

These responses are based on a survey conducted last week by the Israel Democracy Institute. The survey asked: From the standpoint of Israel’s interests, which, in your opinion, of the two candidates in the upcoming U.S. presidential elections is preferable —Donald Trump (Republican Party) or Joe Biden (Democratic Party)?

The responses confirm what we know about Israelis: when looking at American presidents their main interest is Israel’s interest. They view Trump favorably because of what he does for Israel. They view Biden less favorably, possibly, because of his role as Vice President in the Obama administration. Sixteen percent see Biden as favorable to Israel. But it is noteworthy that in 2016 Israelis viewed Hilary Clinton favorably, and wanted her to win the election, even though she was also a member of the first Obama administration.

Israel’s “interests” are not defined in this poll. For some, it is annexation. For others, it could be something that contradicts the preferences of the Israeli government. On the Israeli left, there is preference for Biden (56%). On the right, there is a preference for Trump (75%). Likud (74%) and Blue and White voters (43%) prefer Trump. The two parties whose voters want Biden to be president are the Arab Joint List and Labor-Meretz.

However, we should not ignore other factors at play, such as the suspicion with which many Israelis view the cultural trends on America’s left. Most Israelis agree that Black Lives Matter protests are justified (64%). The picture becomes more complicated when they are asked if it is right “to destroy memorial sites to historical events and to historical figures whose opinions are nowadays considered discriminatory or racist.” Twenty percent said yes. Fifty-seven percent said no.

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