New American Foundation Poll on Israel a “Bull’s Trail” Poll

By Con George-Kotzabasis

The New America Foundation (NAF) poll is most doubtful, if not a wishful concoction, that President Obama has not significantly reduced Israeli support for his Middle East policy with the fateful diplomatic error he made with his insistence and demand that Israel cease all settlements. An overwhelming majority of Israelis rejected this demand of Obama as being not only against Israel’s interests, but also, for its political naivety, as shown by a poll of the prestigious Jerusalem Post last August. That such a significant majority of Israelis against Obama can now be transformed in such a short time by the NAF poll into a 41% favourable for Obama goes against the grain of elementary logic and places a great question mark about the credibility and objectivity of the NAF survey. Moreover, the perception among a huge majority of Israelis that Obama is pro-Palestinian, according to the same poll of the Jerusalem Post, makes the NAF poll a “bull’s trail”.

The above post elicited the following comments in The Washington Note.


Posted by PissedOffAmerican, Dec 11 2009, 9:43PM – Link

Kotz, considering that Steve provides a link to the poll itself, and its methodology, it might help your argument if you actually gave us chapter and verse about why you think the NAF poll is skewed.

And I find it hard to believe that you are too stupid to see how this works in Netanyahu’s favor. Not only does it demonstrate that the Israeli’s appreciate a cowardly and subservient American President, it also telegraphs to Obama that if he continues with the same kind of toothless horseshit  the Israelis will abstain from using his middle name when feeding our worthless sack of shit Fourth Estate the script for the next edition of….

“Israel, (the good guys), necessarily exterminate more Palestinians, (the evil doers), while continuing the ethnic fumigation of Jerusalem.”


Posted by JohnH, Dec 11 2009, 10:59PM – Link

Yes, nice poll numbers are moot if you don’t have the spine to use them to promote American interests…

It’s charming that Kotz thinks that stopping the settlements is the problem. For Kotz’ information, most of the rest of the world thinks that constructing the settlements is the problem, and that Obama had it exactly right–before his spine turned to mush.

Posted by nadine, Dec 12 2009, 12:26AM – Link

“According to the New American Foundation Poll, President Obama has a 41% favorable / 37% unfavorable rating among Israelis. His unfavorable rating is only four points higher than the unfavorable rating for George W. Bush, who is routinely characterized as very popular among Israelis.”

ROFL. Here is the question they asked:

“Q.20 Now, I’d like to rate your feelings toward some people, with one hundred meaning a VERY
WARM, FAVORABLE feeling; zero meaning a VERY COLD, UNFAVORABLE feeling; and fifty
meaning not particularly warm or cold. You can use any number from zero to one hundred, the higher the
number the more favorable your feelings are toward that person or organization. If you have no opinion or
never heard of that person, please say so.”

It was purely on Obama’s personal popularity. It had nothing to do with his policies at all, and nothing to do with his Mideast policies. It had nothing to do with his job approval either. Totally misleading. His personal popularity is higher than his job approval in the US too.

The rest of the poll is packed full of push-poll questions about good things that will arrive after an Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty. I’d love to see Scott Rasmussen analyze these questions.

Posted by Dan Kervick, Dec 12 2009, 11:37AM – Link

Looking over all of the numbers in the poll that pertain to Obama, we get this picture: On the whole, Israelis think Obama is honest and trustworthy, don’t think he is particularly naïve, think he will improve America’s standing in the world, and think his election is “good for the problems facing the world”.

But most don’t think he supports Israel or shares their values. So there is some significant number of Israelis who think Obama is good for America and the world, but bad for Israel, and thus admit to a divergence between Israeli interests and non-Israeli interests.

And then there’s this stunner: 39% of Israelis believe Barack Obama is a Muslim! And as I read the supporting numbers, over half of Sephardic Jews think he is a Muslim.

Obama might be able to help himself in Israeli if he could just figure out how to bring that number down to 25% by convincing some of these folks that he is actually a Christian. Maybe he should send them Christmas cards.

As others have mentioned, the key results are hard to interpret because they don’t show a breakdown into Arab and non-Arab Israelis. That data appears to be on the supporting “Crosstabs” PDF. There is a section for questions 20 to 29 that breaks the responses down by respondent identification.

As expected, Obama is more popular among Israeli Arabs than Jews. For some reason, Obama is very unpopular with Israel’s young people. I wonder if that has something to do with demographics. The Jewish birth rate in the colonies is higher, as I understand it, than the birth rate in the rest of Israel.

Kotzabasis says,


It’s true of course that the political “tyroism” of ‘the world thinks that constructing the settlements is the problem.’ But the cardinal question is not what the world thought about the freeze of the settlements but what Israelis felt about it. And with Obama’s diplomatic faux pas on a total freeze he missed the wood for the trees as to the feelings of an overwhelming number of Israelis.

Kervick’s post is brimming, as usually, with contradictions. While 39% percent of Jews and over half of Sephardic Jews believe that Obama is a Muslim, nonetheless Kervick deduces from the poll that ‘on the whole Israelis think that Obama is honest and trustworthy,’ and that he is ‘good for the problems facing the world.’ That Israelis could make such a positive assessment about a “Muslim” president is beyond belief. Kervick takes a flight in the face of glaring contradiction.

What is interesting and revealing at the same time however, is that Clemons cleverly abstains from making a direct positive assessment of the NAF poll and uses a mouthpiece, Congressman Robert Wexler, to evaluate and wax lyrical about the poll. Is it because Clemons is concerned that he would compromise his political nous by directly accepting the dubious results of a dodgy poll?

JohnH says,

As Kotz notes, “the cardinal question is not what the world thought about the freeze of the settlements but what Israelis felt about it.” And what makes Israel great is that it can lead the US around by its nose…

If the US wants to be respected as a leader in the world, it will have to solve its Israel problem.

Posted by Dan Kervick, Dec 13 2009, 12:02AM – Link

“Kervick’s post is brimming, as usually, with contradictions. While 39% percent of Jews and over half of Sephardic Jews believe that Obama is a Muslim, nonetheless Kervick deduces from the poll that ‘on the whole Israelis think that Obama is honest and trustworthy,’ and that he is ‘good for the problems facing the world.’”

Kotzabasis, rather than allowing you to go further in making a fool of yourself, I will instead suggest you follow the link Steve provided, and read the results for poll questions 30, 39 and 42. Take note of the numbers under the “Very Well” and “Well” columns – which are summed up in the “Total Well” column. After you have absorbed those results, you will see that I didn’t “deduce” anything about majority opinion in Israel, but simply read it straight off the poll results.

Posted by kotzabasis, Dec 13 2009, 4:14AM – Link


Well, well, you might not be a fool but you certainly are sans political insight. That you ‘simply read it straight off the poll results’ without seeing the flaunting contradiction or commenting upon it if you had seen it, that is, while stunningly, according to you, a majority of Sephardic Jews think that Obama ‘is a Muslim,’ yet according to questions 30, 39, and 42 a majority of Jews consider him favourably. The fact that you missed this glaring contradiction of the poll and didn’t sniff its “bull’s trail”, i.e., the cozenage of the poll, makes you a political simpleton.

Posted by Dan Kervick, Dec 13 2009, 10:10AM – Link

Kotzabasis, you’re just trying to cover your embarrassment now with more ad hominem sneering and ad hoc arguments.

The statistic about Sephardic Jews is also to be found in the results in the Crosstabs page. It’s not just “according to me”. What you seem to be suggesting is that the poll must be faulty in some way because these results are a “glaring contradiction”. The fact that you see them as contradictory reflects only your own bigoted preconceptions, not any incoherence in the poll results.

It is possible that many of these Sephardic Jews only distantly follow American politics. They know that the US president’s father is of Kenyan origin, and that they are both named “Barack Obama”, so assume, not knowing much else about his personal history and religious conversion, that he is a Muslim. It is also possible, as I think Nadine suggested, that these Sephardic Jews’ attitudes simply reflect their own traditions, in which a person’s religious identity isn’t something one can choose, but is a result of parentage. Just as they believe that what makes them Jews is that their mothers were Jewish, they believe that the fact that Obama’s father was a Muslim makes him a Muslim.

Kotzabasis says,


You are a very bad reader. The phrase ‘according to me’ follows the word ‘stunningly’ and applies to it, which in your first post you typed as ‘stunner,’ and did not apply to the results in the Crosstabs page.

Just answer one question and you will see clearly by your own answer that the ‘contradiction’ is free from any bigoted preconceptions. Can you imagine that a majority of Sephardic Jews that assume correctly or wrongly-in this case of course wrongly-that Obama is a Muslim would also consider him favourably, when the whole Muslim world is deadly against them? By being overly logical in your second paragraph you continue to miss this glaring contradiction in its bellicose context of Muslims and Jews. This contradiction in itself speaks volumes about the cognitive status of the poll which you parroted sans critical scrutiny.